On the surface, it would seem that allergies and anxiety would have little in common, save for the fact that they both affect millions of Americans. A recent report, however, indicates that children with food allergies are likewise prone to suffering from anxiety.
Crunching the Numbers
This study was authored by Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, and featured a total of 80 children between the ages of four and twelve. These subjects were split into two groups – those that had food allergies, and those that didn’t.
When it came to anxiety, as well as other mood disorders, children in the former group had it worse than those in the latter. Children with diagnosed food allergies were 57% more at risk of suffering from either anxiety or some other type of mood disorder. In
contrast, this figure stood at 48% for children in the allergy-free group.
What’s the Connection?
So what could explain this potential connection? According to lead author Dr. Renee Goodwin, there could be multiple answers to this question. “There are a number of possible explanations for the relationship found between food allergy diagnosis and increased social anxiety issues in this sample of pediatric patients,” stated Goodwin. “Management of a potentially life-threatening condition may be anxiety provoking, and some children may experience increased social anxiety about being ‘different’ from
other children depending on their age and how food allergy is managed by adults in a particular setting.”
Goodwin also noted that food allergies can weigh on family budgets, which in turn might increase anxiety amongst children from poorer backgrounds. In light of their observations, the research team believes that this topic should be further studied, with the aim of unearthing potential solutions. “Given the strong association between food allergy and social anxiety in children future investigations on the food allergy-mental health relationship are also warranted in clinical, school, and community-based settings which could aid in the development of interventions,” stated Goodwin.