Co-occurrence of Food Sensitivities and Psychological Disorders in Australian Children.
1Central Queensland University, Appleton Institute for Behavioural Science & School of Human, Health & Social Sciences
This paper presents findings from a larger study of the psychosocial implications of living with a chronic food sensitivity. Participants were targeted through membership of food related illness support groups, and parent reports were gathered for 1316 Australian children aged 0-18 (M= 7.3 years). Almost half (46%,n=¬594) were reported to have a food sensitivity (food allergy or food intolerance), with 80% (n=450) having received a professional medical diagnosis. A significantly higher proportion of those children also had a diagnosed psychological condition compared to the children without food sensitivities, and at rates much higher than Australian prevalence data. This indicates that a child with a food sensitivity is more likely to also have significant psychological needs. Children with a medically diagnosed food sensitivity were 4 times more likely to have Asperger Syndrome, 4 times more likely to have Dyslexia, 3 times more likely to have Depression or Anxiety, and 4 times more likely to have ADHD. Acknowledgement of the potential complexity of these conditions will promote more effective management of the psychosocial health of these children and their families.