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Kids With Peanut Allergy Grow Up Worried

Children Feel Scared, Restricted About Food
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WebMD Health News

Nov. 20, 2003 -- Children with a peanut allergy grow up anxious about food -- and it makes childhood far less fun.

A new study, looking at the quality-of-life impact of peanut allergy, appears in the current issue of Pediatric Allergy and Immunology.

In it, 20 children with a peanut allergy and 20 with insulin-dependent diabetes completed questionnaires asking about various lifestyle issues and how their disease affected them.

Those children with peanut allergies reported significantly higher anxiety about eating, especially when eating away from home. However, both groups of children had similar concerns and worries about treating their disease, whether they were at home or school, writes lead researcher Natalie J. Avery, MD, with the University of Southampton.

According to the study, allergic children reported being more afraid of accidentally eating peanuts than diabetic children reported being afraid of low blood sugar. Children with peanut allergies reported being either very scared or extremely scared of accidental consumption of peanuts, while children with diabetes reported to be moderately scared or less.

Eighty-five percent of kids with peanut allergies checked food labels, while only 50% of children with diabetes said they checked labels.

For 60% of kids with a peanut allergy, eating out always meant going to the same restaurant because it was "safe."

Kids with peanut allergies felt more restricted from physical activities than other kids did -- although kids with insulin-dependant diabetes didn't feel this way. Children with insulin dependant diabetes said that physical activity helped their condition.

Overall, the peanut-allergy kids had poorer quality of life than kids with diabetes. "This appears to be related to anxiety," writes Avery. "It appears that [these kids] are aware that their condition might be fatal." Children with diabetes may not be aware of the long-term implications of their disease, she adds.

Her study shows how "simple tasks like shopping or eating in restaurants can be extremely frightening, even perceived as life-threatening," she writes.

It's vital that parents instill a positive attitude and soften the child's overly anxious tendencies -- allowing them to live a less restricted lifestyle, Avery adds.

SOURCE: Avery, N. Pediatric Allergy and Immunology; vol 14: pp 1-5.

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