Background: There are only a few studies on the impact of food hypersensitivity (FHS) in children on health-related quality of life (HRQL). The present study was designed to examine this impact in a population-based birth cohort (BAMSE).
Methods: A nested case-control study was performed within the cohort. The parents of 1378 nine-year-old children filled out a generic questionnaire with 13 subscales (Child Health Questionnaire Parental Form 28 - CHQ-PF28) supplemented with disease-specific questions concerning FHS. There were 212 children with report of FHS. Another 221 children with allergic diseases but not FHS were examined for comparison. Furthermore, the impact of pronounced symptoms of FHS and of increasing levels of food-specific IgE antibodies on HRQL was also analysed.
Results: The children with FHS exhibited significantly lower scores on the subscales physical functioning, role/social limitations - physical and general health in the generic instrument. Furthermore, children with food-related symptoms from the lower airways were scored lower on Self Esteem, Parental Impact - time and Family Cohesion. Sensitization per se did not alter these patterns, but high levels of food-specific IgE-antibodies affected mental health and general health negatively. A physician's diagnosis of food allergy did not affect any of the subscales negatively.
Conclusions: Parents reported that FHS exerts a negative impact on the HRQL of 9-year-old children, in particular in children with symptoms from the lower airways or if the FHS is associated with high levels of food-specific IgE-antibodies. Healthcare-givers must put major effort into improving and maintaining the HRQL of these children.