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Study: The Impact of Peanut Allergy on the Quality of Life in Adolescents

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This study was scheduled to be presented at the AAAAI 2020 Meeting which was canceled due to COVID-19.

The Peanut Allergy Burden Study (PABS) assessed the real-world burden of peanut allergy on patients and caregivers in the United States. Adolescents 13-17-years-old with self-reported, provider-diagnosed peanut allergy participated in the PABS online survey.

Augmenting the online survey, medical and treatment history and the validated Pediatric Quality of Life Inventory PedsQL (scores 0-100, higher is better) were collected and standard, between-group analyses were conducted.

Comprising this group, 102 adolescents with peanut allergy completed the survey with a mean age of 14.7 years. 55.9% were male and 62.8% were white.

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The mean PedsQL Total quality of life score was 48.8; mean subscale scores were: Physical (53.6), Emotional (43.0), Social (48.2), School (46.0), and Psychosocial (44.5). These scores were significantly below the scale scores from a general population of 8-16-year-olds which ranged from 78.2-87.0 and exceeded the minimum clinically important difference.

Adolescents experiencing one or more peanut allergy-related reactions in the past year had significantly lower PedsQL Total score as did:

  • those receiving clinician interventions for one or more reactions in the past year;
  • those “not at all” to “somewhat satisfied” with current approaches to PA reaction prevention;
  • those saying peanut allergy limited their day-to-day life “somewhat” to “completely”;
  • or those who reported a “great” to “100% chance” of not effectively dealing with a reaction.
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In an article on the study published in The American Journal of Managed Care, the lead author, Anna Nowak-Węgrzyn, MD, PhD, professor of pediatrics at the New York University School of Medicine was asked why she focused on the burden of peanut allergy on adolescents in particular.

She answered:

This is a very important area of study, and it sort of ties to the burden of food allergy in general. As physicians or clinicians taking care of patients, we understand how profoundly this diagnosis affects obviously the patient, but also the caregivers and the entire family. Food allergy is a disease that is really unique, in a sense that you’re not sick all the time. But you’re living with the potential for a life-threatening, catastrophic event at every minute, every second of your life, so it’s really very unique. There were studies previously that indicated that the effect of the negative effects of food allergy on quality of life is higher for food allergy compared to chronic diseases in children or adolescents, like diabetes or heart disease. It is really very interesting, and I think it’s very important to find out.

Adolescents—obviously each age group is very important—but adolescents are this very special age group because that’s where they start their independence. They are feeling the limitations of this diagnosis significantly, because now they can go out with their friends. There’s this lack of spontaneity because you have to be in control and in charge of every minute of your life.

Obviously, it’s also important, with new and emerging treatments for food allergy, to really understand and describe this need for therapy, because people who are not affected by this will say, “Well, what’s the big deal? You just don’t eat the food and carry your epinephrine around, and you should be okay.” This is not really so. Because not eating the food, avoiding the food and carrying epinephrine around is affecting those patients and their families in a very significant way.

We encourage you to read the article in its entirety if you have children who are (or will be) adolescents coping with food allergy.

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Dave Bloom
Dave Bloom is CEO and "Blogger in Chief" of SnackSafely.com.

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