If you’re a kid living with a deathly allergy to peanuts, you’re probably walking around a bit on edge. This can lead to further mental health problems down the line, experts say.
Food allergies can admittedly be a scary part of life. An estimated 5.9 million children live with serious food allergies in the United States, and thirty per cent of those are allergic to more than one food.
Being unable to eat something that should nourish you is increasingly common among youth, with recent estimates as high as 8 percent.
Why are the rates on the rise? No one really knows. Some attribute the increased danger to changes in our environment, and less time spent in natural spaces. A reduced exposure to dirt and bacteria throughout childhood with the advent of more screen time, is seen by some as being the culprit.
Add in a growth in sedentary, indoor activities and overall weakened health, and it could be a recipe for disaster.
The truth is though, no one really knows precisely why rates are rising.
What is known? This: if you’re a kid living in a low socioeconomic situation, and you’re suffering from a serious food allergy, you’re more likely to experience anxiety on a regular basis, and this could lead to depression later on.
Skyrocketing EpiPens and Growing Grocery Bills
A new study out of Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, published in the Journal of Pediatrics, looked at 80 pediatric patients between the ages of 4 and 12 years from the Bronx in New York.
Some of them had allergies to certain foods and others didn’t.
Researchers found that nearly 60% of the kids with food allergies reported having symptoms of anxiety, compared with less than half of those who didn’t have allergies.
Why the worries? Researchers believe that the rising cost of food as well as the sky-rocketing price of epinephrine auto-injectors, is giving some kids the willies.
Simply put, they know things are getting expensive and they’re unsure whether their parents will be able to afford a replacement EpiPen the next time they need to use one.
The double whammy is that having anxiety as a kid is seen by doctors as a strong precursor to suffering from depression later on in life.
Dr. Renee Goodwin, PhD, lead author of the study, insists that more much work needs to be done on the relationship between food allergies and mental health. These can be completed in both clinical settings as well as in schools and communities.
Interventions need to be developed to set allergy-prone kids up for a better life, she says.
Is your family living with food allergies? For more information on the subject, click here. If you think you’re child is suffering from anxiety or depression talk to your doctor and seek help.
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