Background: Food allergy affects >6% of children, but the impact of this disease on health-related quality of life has not been well studied.
Methods: Parental perceptions of physical and psychosocial functioning were measured with the Children's Health Questionnaire (CHQ-PF50). This tool and an additional allergy-related questionnaire were sent to 400 members of the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network with children aged 5 to 18, an age group on which the tool has been validated.
Results: Surveys were completed by 253 parents (63%). The mean age of the food-allergic children was 10.8 years (range, 5 to 18 yrs); 59% were male. Sixty-eight percent were allergic to one or two foods, the remainder to more than two foods. Concomitant chronic atopic diseases included: asthma with atopic dermatitis (33%), atopic dermatitis alone (13%), asthma alone (33%), and 21% had neither asthma nor atopic dermatitis. In comparison to previously established norms, the families scored significantly lower (more than 10 scale score points lower and P < 0.0001) for general health perception (GH), emotional impact on the parent (PE), and limitation on family activities (FA). Associated atopic disease, influenced primarily by those with both asthma and atopic dermatitis, accounted for a significant reduction in the GH scale (analysis of variance, P = 0.0001), but not for measures of PE and FA. Within the study group, food-allergic individuals with several (more than two) food allergies had significantly lower (P < 0.05) scores for 7 of 12 scales compared with individuals with few (one or two) food allergies. However, those with one or two food allergies scored significantly lower (P < 0.0001) than established norms on scales for GH, PE, and FA.
Conclusions: Childhood food allergy has a significant impact on GH, PE, and FA. Factors that influence reductions in these scales include associated atopic disease and the number of foods being avoided.