Globally food allergies affect around 10% of children and in around 70% of cases, children actually have multiple allergies which creates a huge health burden that negatively impacts on quality of life.
In a recent study, an online questionnaire was distributed to families of children with a physician diagnosed milk allergy plus at least one other food allergy. The questionnaire set out to explore the allergy burden terms of time, financial costs, social restrictions and emotional demands. After completing the questionnaire, a subset of parents were interviewed to provide a greater insight of the allergy burden.
64 participants were recruited with over 70% of the children aged 10 or younger. In addition to milk, other reported allergies included peanuts (65%), tree nuts (58%), egg (76%) and sesame (31%). Milk allergy was reported as being the most socially limiting (81%), required the most planning (76%) and caused the most anxiety (68%). In the subsequent interviews, parents reported on how alternative sources of calcium were both difficult to find and costly and also perceived as not having the same nutritional value. Other problems identified included how milk was heavily promoted to children as a dietary staple and that dairy-related ingredients were ever-present which made eating at restaurants challenging.
Abrams EM et al. Milk allergy most burdensome in multi-food allergic children. Pediat Allerg Imm-UK 2020;15 May doi.org/10.1111/pai.13274