Socioeconomic Disparities in the Economic Impact of Childhood Food Allergy

Pediatrics. 2016 May;137(5):e20153678. doi: 10.1542/peds.2015-3678.


Objectives: We compared direct medical costs borne by the health care system and out-of-pocket costs borne by families for children with food allergy by socioeconomic characteristics.

Methods: We analyzed cross-sectional survey data collected between November 2011 and January 2012 from 1643 US caregivers with a food-allergic child. We used a 2-part regression model to estimate mean costs and identified differences by levels of household income and race or ethnicity.

Results: Children in the lowest income stratum incurred 2.5 times the amount of emergency department and hospitalization costs as a result of their food allergy than higher-income children ($1021, SE ±$209, vs $416, SE ±$94; P < .05). Costs incurred for specialist visits were lower in the lowest income group ($228, SE ±$21) compared with the highest income group ($311, SE ±$18; P < .01) as was spending on out-of-pocket medication costs ($117, SE ± $26, lowest income; $366, SE ±$44, highest income; P < .001). African American caregivers incurred the lowest amount of direct medical costs and spent the least on out-of-pocket costs, with average adjusted costs of $493 (SE ±$109) and $395 (SE ±$452), respectively.

Conclusions: Disparities exist in the economic impact of food allergy based on socioeconomic status. Affordable access to specialty care, medications, and allergen-free foods are critical to keep all food-allergic children safe, regardless of income and race.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • African Americans
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / economics
  • Female
  • Food Hypersensitivity / economics*
  • Food Hypersensitivity / ethnology
  • Food Hypersensitivity / therapy
  • Health Care Costs*
  • Health Expenditures*
  • Hospitalization / economics
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Regression Analysis
  • Socioeconomic Factors*