'Their tummys don't really suit that food': children and young teenagers understanding of food allergy

R.C. Knibb, S. Croker, C. Stalker

Research output: Contribution to journalConference abstractpeer-review


Background: Food allergy (FA) is aunique chronic condition as sufferers aregenerally well unless they accidentally ingest an allergen, whereupon symptoms can be life threatening. A good under-standing of the condition is essential forsuccessful self-management, however little is known about children and young teenagers' understanding. This study aimed toexplore understanding of FA in childrenwith and without FA and whether under-standing changes as children get older.Method: Participants aged 6–14 years (53with FA; 89 without), recruited from loc evidence of a prospective associationbetween maternal, perinatal or infant VDIand subsequent IgE-mediated FA schools and allergy clinics took part insemi-structured interviews; data were analysed using thematic analysis.Results: Three themes were identified fromthe data across the different age groups andallergy statuses: food allergy as a sickness, food allergy as an illness and food allergy asintolerance to food. Children aged 6–8 years described FA as a sickness; you were not allowed the food because it makes youpoorly. Children aged 9–11 years also talked about FA as something that makesyou poorly, but many also described it as anillness and understood that symptoms were caused by food. Children aged 12–14 yearsdescribed it as an intolerance or that FA was your body's response to a particularfood. These age-related differences wereseen in children with and without FA. Conclusion: Although sophistication ofknowledge of FA increases with age, it is still a little understood condition by chil-dren and young teenagers. Clear, age-re-lated information about food allergy andhow it should be managed is needed forthose with and without allergy, to avoidmisunderstanding, and aid awareness andbetter self-management of the condition
Original languageEnglish
Article number1639
Pages (from-to)514
Number of pages1
Issue numberS101
Publication statusPublished - 22 Sept 2015
EventEuropean Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology Congress - Barcelona, Spain
Duration: 6 Jun 201510 Jun 2015

Bibliographical note

Special Issue: Abstracts from the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology Congress, 6–10 June 2015, Barcelona, Spain


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