Anxiety in children and adolescents with food allergies: A longitudinal study

Melissa Rubes, Fordham University


The objective of this study was to assess the factors associated with the development, maintenance and change of anxiety symptoms in food allergic youth over the course of one year. Participants were 251 children (ages 8-17 years) and parents cared for at the Jaffe Food Allergy Institute in New York, New York who enrolled in a longitudinal study assessing food allergy and quality of life (QoL). Baseline questionnaires (T1) were completed by parents and children during routine visits; 124 families completed study questionnaires at one year follow-up (T2). The food allergic youth in this study were primarily non-Hispanic white males with a mean age of 10.5 years. The majority (61.4%) of child participants had more than two allergies, with peanut and tree nut being the most popular. Previous allergic reactions occurred in 94% of the sample. Half of these reactions affected breathing (49.4%), and one-third required epinephrine (35.5%). The study’s primary hypothesis that parental distress, self-management (SM) responsibilities, QoL, peer victimization and allergy severity will be associated with anxiety was partially supported. Parental distress, QoL, peer victimization and allergy severity all predicted anxiety at baseline. There was no significant relationship between SM and anxiety. Participants were categorized into one of four anxiety symptom profiles (stable low, increasing, decreasing, stable high) based on reported anxiety at T1 and T2. The most common anxiety symptom profile comprised youth with normal or relatively low levels of anxiety over time. Increasing and decreasing anxiety trajectories were the second most common. A small proportion of youth experienced stable high anxiety symptoms over time. There were no differences between anxiety profiles on parental distress, SM responsibility, QoL, peer victimization and allergy severity. This study found a much higher prevalence of peer victimization compared to clinically elevated anxiety symptoms (45.4% versus 4%) in food allergic youth. Higher anxiety and poorer QoL at baseline was predictive of chronic victimization. Results stress the importance of intervening with food allergic youth who report broader psychosocial difficulties as indicators that these children may be bullied or at risk of being bullied.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Rubes, Melissa, "Anxiety in children and adolescents with food allergies: A longitudinal study" (2015). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3728406.