Approximately 8% of children have food allergy. Yet, little is known about how parents cope with the burden of this disease.
To describe the perceptions of food allergy-related mental health issues of parents of children with food allergy.
Parents of children with pediatric allergist-diagnosed food allergy were recruited via allergy clinics and education centres in a large, Canadian city. We used content analysis to identify overarching themes.
We interviewed 21 parents with children (boys (13/21; 62.9%) age <12 months-16 years. Interviews averaged 47 (range 33-82) minutes. Most children were diagnosed as infants, and few (7/21; 33.3%) were monoallergic. About one-half (7/16; 43.8%) had a history of anaphylaxis. For parents of children with a single food allergy, " Accommodation and Adaptation " was described. In contrast, parents with multiple food allergic children described " Anxiety and Isolation ," and spoke of being "depressed" and "terrified" about leaving their children in the care of others who may not be equipped to handle food allergy. Many parents felt "overwhelmed and alone," especially if they lacked support from extended family and/or their social circle. " Fear for today, fear for the futur e" was commonly described by parents, although a tenuous symbiotic co-existence was developed, in which " Food allergy management has become our normal ". Finally, a small group of parents that " Bullying happens, but we are alone to cope with it. " CONCLUSION: Multiple food allergies negatively impact the mental health of parents, in a variety of well-being domains.

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