One study that I'm looking forward to presenting is based on a large data set that collected very comprehensive data from over 800 Chicago-area families of children with food allergy including questionnaires about how both mothers' and fathers' quality of life was impacted by their child's food allergy. We also asked about how empowered and able they felt that they were to manage their child's food allergy. Interestingly, parents who reported that they were highly empowered did not enjoy a better quality of life, as one might predict. When looking at mothers and fathers separately, we found that mothers reported greater empowerment than fathers, yet also reported reduced food allergy-related quality of life. We also found that parents of children with milk and egg allergy suffered reduced quality of life compared to parents of children with peanut and tree nut allergies.
After careful analysis of parents' responses to the individual survey questions, we feel that increased parental empowerment was not associated with improved quality of life due to constant parental concern that their children will be exposed to food allergens in the social environment. We feel that these findings underline the importance of programs that work to make places like schools and childcare providers safer for children with food allergy as well as programs which seek to build mutually supportive social networks among parents and caregivers of children with food allergy.