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The Impact of Childhood Food Allergies on Parenting Styles

July 8, 2022

Dr. Sonja Burmeister, Food Allergy Mom, Doctorate and Professor of Occupational Therapy specializing in Pediatrics, Physicians Assistant, Certified in Early Intervention (OTD, MSPA-C, OTR/L, EICP-OT)

The psychological effects of having a child with food allergies is profound.  Food, which in most cultures is seen as a source for mothers to nurture their children and families, is now a potential threat.  For a parent of a child with food allergies, every food label must be studied, and new food carefully introduced, to ensure their child will not have an allergic reaction, or forebodingly an anaphylactic response.  This leaves mothers uncertain and mistrusting, creating a lifelong relationship with food where trust must be earned.  Researchers ponder what effect this may have on one’s parenting style.

In a recent study performed by a Department of Psychology and published by Children’s Health Care, researchers looked at the likelihood of parents becoming overprotective in their parenting style as a result of having children with food allergies.  In this comparison study, the study administrators asked 78 parents of children without food allergies and 80 parents of children with food allergies, to respond to questions to assess their ability to tollerate uncertainty in their parenting decisions and to determine their parenting style.  The overwhelming outcome of this research suggests that parents of children with food allergies were highly unlikely to be able to deal with uncertainty, and were at higher risk in developing a protective parenting style.

A protective parenting style can be healthy and can create a safe and enriching environment within which a child with food allergies can survive and thrive, when done effectively. The issues arrise when protective parenting spills over into overprotective parenting. Studies have shown that overprotective parenting can be problematic, as overprotection of the wellbeing of the child can lead to risk aversion, a dependency on the parents, a higher risk of psychological disorders, a lack of strong coping mechanisms, and chronic anxiety.

As parents of children with multiple food allergies, my twin sister and I share in this innate knowledge.  It is what inspired us to create MyHealthcareKit, which offers a medication storage kit and your doctors prescribed treatment regimen – all in one organized place so you and your caregivers can quickly and effectively delivery the right food allergy medication in the event of an accidental food allergen exposure.  Our hope is to provide you with the security of knowing you can accurately respond to your child’s allergic response, as well as to promote trust in your children’s environment because you are now armed with the resources needed to master your child’s food allergy emergency.

We will continue to bring you knowledge and empowerment through our blogs ad new product offerings.  Thank you for joining us on this journey!



The Importance of Developing Universal Food Safety Protocols

September 26, 2021

Dr. Sonja Burmeister, Food Allergy Mom, Doctorate and Professor of Occupational Therapy specializing in Pediatrics, Physicians Assistant, Certified in Early Intervention (OTD, MSPA-C, OTR/L, EICP-OT)

            Adopting a safe food handling protocol is essential for saving lives.  Recently a law was passed in California as a result of the unfortunate death of a 13 year old girl.  Governor Newsom of California signed the Natalie Giorgi Sunshine Act in honor of Natalie Giorgi who passed away as a result of severe allergic reaction due to accidental exposure to an undeclared peanut.  This unfortunate incidence occurred while Natalie was away at camp.

            Most parents of children with food allergies fear allowing their child out of their own personal care, yet struggle with a child’s burgeoning need for independence.  Educating children as advocates for their own personal safety is the best first line of defense, however as witnessed in this story, we need a supportive community and universal standards for responding to food allergen exposure.

            The inclusion of camps into the growing list of “Food Facilities” mandated by law to undergo certification in safe food handling is one means of implementing preventative measures.  Existing California Law (AB 1532: mandates uniform health and sanitation standards for retail food facilities with local enforcement.  The identified person in charge of all food handling employees must have adequate knowledge and be properly trained in food safety as it relates to their assigned duties.  This includes adequate knowledge of major food allergens and the symptomatology that major allergens can cause.

            Education and universal standards for action are essential in preventing catastrophic events, such as the unfortunate allergen exposure and anaphylaxis of Natalie Giorgi. We, as a general public, have the power to implement standardized measures of care to protect every child with food allergy.


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