Columbia University researchers reported a link between food allergy and childhood anxiety and depression among a sample of predominantly low socioeconomic status minority children.
Children with a food allergy had a significantly higher prevalence of childhood anxiety. Food allergies were not associated with symptoms of childhood depression or with symptoms of anxiety or depression among their caregivers. The results are published in the Journal of Pediatrics.
Food allergies are increasingly common among youth in the US with recent estimates as high as 8%. Until now little was known about the prevalence of food allergy in low socioeconomic ethnic minority populations.
The researchers studied 80 pediatric patients ages 4-12 years, 8 years old on average, with and without food allergy and their caregivers from urban pediatric outpatient clinics in the Bronx, New York. They controlled for an asthma diagnosis in the children, as anxiety and mood disorders are more prevalent among youth with asthma and especially more common in low socioeconomic minority children.
Among the children with a food allergy, 57% reported having symptoms of anxiety compared to 48% of children without a food allergy. Approximately 48% of the children had symptoms of depression with or without a food allergy.