The psychosocial impact of food allergy and food hypersensitivity in children, adolescents and their families: a review

Allergy. 2010 Aug;65(8):933-45. doi: 10.1111/j.1398-9995.2010.02342.x. Epub 2010 Feb 22.


Food allergy affects 6% of children but there is no cure, and strict avoidance of index allergens along with immediate access to rescue medication is the current best management. With specialist care, morbidity from food allergy in children is generally low, and mortality is very rare. However, there is strong evidence that food allergy and food hypersensitivity has an impact on psychological distress and on the quality of life (QoL) of children and adolescents, as well as their families. Until recently, the measurement of QoL in allergic children has proved difficult because of the lack of investigative tools available. New instruments for assessing QoL in food allergic children have recently been developed and validated, which should provide further insights into the problems these children encounter and will enable us to measure the effects of interventions in patients. This review examines the published impact of food allergy on affected children, adolescents and their families. It considers influences such as gender, age, disease severity, co-existing allergies and external influences, and examines how these may impact on allergy-related QoL and psychological distress including anxiety and depression. Implications of the impact are considered alongside avenues for future research.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Family*
  • Focus Groups
  • Food Hypersensitivity / epidemiology
  • Food Hypersensitivity / etiology
  • Food Hypersensitivity / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Quality of Life*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult