Food Allergy-Related Risk-Taking and Management Behaviors Among Adolescents and Young Adults

Warren, C. M.; Dyer, A. A.; Otto, A. K.; Smith, B. M.; Kauke, K.; Dinakar, C.; Gupta, R. S.

J Allergy Clin Immunol Pract. 2017 Jan 31


BACKGROUND: Food allergy (FA) affects 8% of children and adolescents in the United States. Nearly 40% of those affected have experienced severe reactions. Fatal food-induced anaphylaxis is most common among adolescents and young adults (AYA); however, FA-related risk behaviors persist in this population and factors associated with these behaviors remain unclear. OBJECTIVE: To characterize FA-related risk-taking and self-management behaviors of AYA with FA. METHODS: A cross-sectional survey was administered to 200 AYA with FA. Latent class analysis was used to identify distinct behavioral risk classes and predictors of risk class membership. RESULTS: Two distinct FA behavioral risk classes were identified, representing less (N = 120) and more (N = 80) risky subpopulations. After adjusting for age, sex, and anaphylaxis history, odds of more risky class membership were significantly reduced for AYA with peanut allergy (odds ratio [OR], 0.27; 95% CI, 0.11-0.65), supportive female friends (OR, 0.27; 95% CI, 0.07-0.99), overprotective mothers (OR, 0.42; 95% CI, 0.18-0.97), teachers who are aware of their FA (OR, 0.39; 95% CI, 0.17-0.91), a history of being bullied (OR, 0.22; 95% CI, 0.09-0.51), and an established 504 education plan (OR, 0.35; 95% CI, 0.15-0.81). AYA also reported numerous positive outcomes of their FA, such as greater responsibility, empathy, and improved diet, which was significantly associated with reduced odds of risky class membership (OR, 0.38; 95% CI, 0.18-0.80). CONCLUSIONS: Among AYA, increased FA-related risk-taking was associated with clinical, demographic, and social factors, including peanut allergy, greater age, as well as absence of social support and specific school FA policies. These associations may be used to inform future interventions designed to address FA-related risk and management behaviors.

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