Background The link between internalizing psychiatric disorders, such as anxiety and depression, and allergic diseases has attracted a high level of interest from psychiatrists and immunologists. Recent studies have found increased anxiety in children with asthma, but findings in children with food allergy (FA) have been inconsistent. Objective It was hypothesized that children with FA would score significantly higher on a standardized anxiety screen than general pediatric (GP) patients but not as high as patients with diagnosed anxiety disorders. Methods A total of 114 patients aged 8 to 16 years (37 with confirmed anxiety disorder from a pediatric psychiatry clinic, 40 with confirmed FA from a pediatric allergy clinic, and 43 well-care patients from a GP clinic) and their mothers completed the Screen for Child Anxiety Related Emotional Disorders (SCARED). Results Children and mothers in the allergy group did not report increased levels of anxiety in children on total SCARED scores or subscales compared with children and mothers from the GP group. There was a trend toward increased panic disorder symptoms reported in children by mothers of children in the allergy group, but this finding did not reach statistical significance. Conclusion Children with FA did not have increased anxiety; however, there was a trend for mothers of children with allergies to report more symptoms of panic disorder in their children. It remains important to screen families for anxiety-related symptoms and refer them to mental health services when indicated.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Immunology and Allergy
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine