Isolated image of a glass of milk and an egg on the board
Food Allergies & Intolerance

Milk & Egg Allergies More Worrisome Than Nut Allergies

If you’re the grandparent or parent of a child with food allergies, you know that constant vigilance is called for regarding everything your off-spring child eats. A hidden ingredient can be fatal. Yet although worry is a factor for anyone caring for a youngster with food allergies, a study published in the July 2014 issue of Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, the scientific publication of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), showed that there is increased anxiety and strain for caregivers of children and young people allergic to milk and eggs – more so than for peanut and tree nut allergies.

This finding surprised the researchers. A release from ACAAI quotes lead study author Laura Howe, MD as saying, “It’s assumed peanut and tree allergies are the most severe, and therefore it may be presumed they would cause the most strain for caregivers. But because eggs and milk are everywhere, and used to prepare so many dishes, caregivers with children allergic to those two ingredients feel more worried and anxious.”

The release from reports that the study examined 305 caregivers of children allergic to milk, egg, peanut or tree nuts – the 4 most common food allergies. The caregivers were asked about details of the children’s most severe food reaction, as well as information about the caregivers’ quality of life. The researchers found that caregivers who understood a child’s reaction to offending foods had a higher quality of life. If the caregivers knew exactly what foods could give a child an allergic reaction, they were less likely to be anxious and stressed.

Only 64 percent of caregivers accurately perceived the severity of their child’s reaction. More than 15 percent over-perceived their child’s reaction severity and 19 percent under-perceived the reaction severity. Caregivers had significant concerns regarding their ability to help in the event of a reaction, and also that others wouldn’t understand the seriousness of their child’s food allergy.

“It is important for those who care for food-allergic children to work with an allergist to determine exactly what foods their child is allergic to, and how to respond in an emergency situation,” said allergist Michael Foggs, MD, ACAAI president. “Parents need to have a clear plan of action in case their child eats a food they shouldn’t. Children with a history of severe allergic reactions, and their caregivers, need to know how to administer epinephrine. Having plans in place can ease a parent’s worries.”

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