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Facing Adulthood With Food Allergy: the Impact on Teens and Young Adults and Their Parents

 

In the My Life With Food Allergy Parent Survey Report from the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), we highlighted the significant social, emotional, and financial impact food allergies can have on parents. In the section, “Spotlight: Transition to Adulthood,” we looked at the impact food allergies can have on both parents and teens/young adults. Here are some of our findings. (Kids With Food Allergies is the food allergy division of AAFA.)


Even if a child with a food allergy has had it all their life, each growth stage comes with its own concerns and challenges. In the “Spotlight: Transition to Adulthood,” we found that the period when a child moves into adulthood comes with a greater risk when food allergies are involved. It also causes a lot of anxiety for their parents.

Why the increased risk? Teens and young adults are at higher risk of dying from a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to a food. Teens and young adults with food allergies also take more risks. This often includes eating unsafe foods, not carrying epinephrine, or waiting too long to use it for a reaction.

To better understand the burden of food allergy on teens/young adults and their families, we reviewed responses from parents of children in this age group (13 to 23). We then compared their responses to the responses from our teen/young adult patient survey.

In every area of life, the parents reported a more negative impact of food allergies than the youths themselves. About 59% of parents said the impact of their child’s food allergy on their own mental health was high. But only 27% of youths felt the same.

As for social impact, 56% of parents said the impact of their child’s food allergy on their own social life was high, compared to 31% of the teens/young adults.

(In the charts below “T/YA” stands for “teens/young adults” and “FA” stands for “food allergy.”)

chart showing the impact of food allergies on various aspects of life for parents and teens/young adults


Parents of teens/young adults with food allergies reported more frequent feelings of fear, worry, and unease.

chart showing how often parents and teens/young adults have fear, worry, and unease about food allergies


When asked how often parents think about their child’s food allergy, 71% said it’s always in the back of their minds. Only 25% of teens/young adults with food allergies said the same thing.

chart showing how often parents of teens/young adults think about food allergies


When asked about their thoughts on food allergies, parents felt more fear and anxiety than youths with food allergies.

chart showing what parents and teens/young adults think about their food allergies

And parents know they stress more about food allergies than their children with food allergies do. Teens/young adults with food allergies also believe their food allergies cause greater fear and anxiety for their family than themselves.

chart showing fears about food allergies in parents and teens/young adults

Despite the impacts of food allergy on parents’ anxiety and mental health, parents say they are “very confident” in many parts of daily management. But they aren’t very comfortable asking for help with their child’s food allergy when needed. Across the board, parents reported higher levels of confidence than teens/young adults with food allergies for all activities covered in the survey.

chart showing level of self-confidence in food allergy management in parents and teens/young adults


Read more about the impact of food allergy in AAFA's My Life With Food Allergy Parent Survey Report.

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  • chart showing fears about food allergies in parents and teens/young adults: chart showing fears about food allergies in parents and teens/young adults
  • chart showing how often parents and teens/young adults have fear, worry, and unease about food allergies: chart showing how often parents and teens/young adults have fear, worry, and unease about food allergies
  • chart showing how often parents of teens/young adults think about food allergies: chart showing how often parents of teens/young adults think about food allergies
  • chart showing the impact of food allergies on various aspects of life for parents and teens/young adults: chart showing the impact of food allergies on various aspects of life for parents and teens/young adults
  • chart showing level of self-confidence in food allergy management in parents and teens/young adults: chart showing level of self-confidence in food allergy management in parents and teens/young adults
  • chart showing what parents and teens/young adults think about their food allergies: chart showing what parents and teens/young adults think about their food allergies

Kids With Food Allergies (KFA) is a division of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA). AAFA is the largest and oldest nonprofit patient organization dedicated to asthma and allergies. KFA educates families and communities with practical food allergy management strategies to save lives and improve the quality of life for children and their families. Our online community includes public blogs. To post a comment, you will need to register or sign in. Registered members have access to additional specialized support forums for food allergies. Registration is free!

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Kids With Food Allergies
A Division of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America
1235 South Clark Street Suite 305, Arlington, VA 22202
Phone: 1-800-7-ASTHMA (1.800.727.8462)
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