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Health News

Workshop helps parents and food-allergic kids

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Workshops designed to provide support and coping skills to families with children allergic to nuts, eggs, milk, shellfish, or other foods, appear to benefit both parents and children alike, researchers report.

A vendor sells peanuts at a market in Vietnam, April 17, 2008. REUTERS/Kham

Post-workshop surveys indicated parents felt less burdened by and better able to handle their child’s food allergies than they were prior to attending the workshop, Dr. Jennifer LeBovidge, from Children’s Hospital Boston, in Massachusetts, and colleagues note.

“When parents feel less burdened by and more competent in managing a child’s medical condition, this positively impacts children’s coping skills,” LeBovidge told Reuters Health.

The children enjoyed meeting peers with food allergies, learning how to manage their allergies, and expressing their feelings through play, artwork, and other activities.

LeBovidge’s group enlisted 61 food-allergic boys and girls, 5 to 7 years old, and their parents to attend half-day, concurrently held workshops designed to provide practical and emotional support that might better enable both parents and children handle the stress of food allergies.

Seventy-two percent of the children had experienced a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis), the investigators report in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

Compared with pre-workshop survey data, post-workshop results obtained 4 to 8 weeks after attendance, showed parents with higher competence scores and lower burden scores regarding their child’s food allergy.

The workshops had a positive effect on the parents and advised them on food allergy risks and safety procedures; how to help their children to manage and cope with their allergy; how to inform peers of these allergies; and how not to pass their own risk anxieties to their children.

LeBovidge and colleagues are currently developing a similar group workshop for pre-adolescent children and their parents.

SOURCE: Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, August 2008

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