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Open Access Parent perspectives on food allergy management and safety during the COVID-19 pandemic

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Background:

U.S. national emergency was declared in mid-March 2020 due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Subsequently, a period of stay-at-home orders, regulatory changes, evolving medical recommendations, and food supply chain disruptions occurred. There is little published research on how such changes affected food allergy management for children with this diagnosis.

Objective:

The study goal was to identify parent perspectives with regard to if and/or how pandemic-related regulatory changes and evolving medical recommendations have affected food allergy management.

Methods:

A survey was distributed to parents of children with food allergy. An electronic Internet forms survey link was available for completion during July 2020. Data were presented as descriptive statistics, cleaned, and coded into a spreadsheet before analysis . Frequencies and percentage were calculated to describe participants’ characteristics and responses.

Results:

Of 377 responses, 359 met inclusion criteria. Concerns about COVID-19 exposure were expressed in 65.7% about accessing an emergency department and 73.6% had school reentry concerns; 66% had not discussed recommended anaphylaxis management algorithm changes with a provider; 85.8% had not discussed the temporary U.S. Food and Drug Administration food labeling policy with a provider. Most (62%) reported shortages of preferred safe food brands. 62% spent more time cooking safe foods from scratch. With regard to the recommendation by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for classroom dining, 57.7% planned to request modifications. With regard to the CDC’s recommendation to use inhalers versus nebulizers, 37.7% had not discussed the topic with a provider. Ninety-two written comments were analyzed and grouped into seven themes.

Conclusion:

New pandemic-related regulations, food supply chain disruptions, and evolving medical recommendations resulted in intensified burdens for respondents, including the increased time needed to complete food allergy management and school reentry concerns. Study results can inform clinical team members (e.g., physicians, nurses, dieticians) of effects that pandemic-related changes may have on this patient population, with subsequent consideration of patient-specific screening, education, and shared decision-making with regard to risk mitigation needs.

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Keywords: : food allergy; COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; anaphylaxis; asthma; epinephrine; food labeling; home management; pandemic; schools; supply shortages

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: From the School of Nursing, Spring Arbor University, Spring Arbor, Michigan 2: Division of Nursing, Molloy College, Rockville Center, New York, and 3: Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Michigan Association, Ann Arbor, Michigan

Publication date: December 1, 2020

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