Dr. Nehal Khalid Abbas Damanhouri
Joint Program of Family Medicine – Makkah Al-Mokarramah – 2013
Food allergy results in rapid onset of multisystem and potentially life-threatening complications in the acute phase, as well as it can severely impact a child’s lifestyle in the long term.
To determine the prevalence and factors associated with food allergy among children (<12 years) of mothers attending a well baby clinic at an Al-Eskan Primary Health Care (PHC) center, Makkah Al-Mokarramah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), 2013.
Materials and Methods:
A cross-sectional descriptive study was carried out that included all mothers with children (<12 years) attended the well baby clinic at Al-Eskan PHC center during the study period (September, 2013), Makkah Al-Mokarramah, KSA. A self-administered questionnaire was used for data collection. It was developed by the researcher, using up to date sources of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, as well as by reviewing previous studies. The questionnaire consists of five parts: demographic data for the mothers and children, family history of allergy, nutritional history of children, presence of food allergy, and detailed questions about the child affected by food allergy.
The study included 182 mothers; their ages ranged between 19 and 47 years with a mean of 31 years and standard deviation of 6.6 years. Majority of them (82.4%) were Saudi. The prevalence of food allergy among children under the age of 12 years was 22.5%. Children with family histories of eczema (37.5%) or food allergy (38.1%) reported significantly higher rate of food allergy; 41.4% of affected children were in the age group 1–5 years and more than half of them (51.2%) were females. Almost two-thirds of them (63.4%) had the first attack of food allergy at the age of 1 year or less. Past-food allergy, asthma, eczema, and allergic rhinitis were reported among 75.6%, 31.7%, 14.6%, and 14.6% allergic children, respectively. Itching was the most common reported symptom (53.7%) followed by skin rash (48.4%) and skin dryness (26.8%). The common reported allergic foods were milk, egg, and banana (31.7%) followed by mango and chocolate (26.8%), strawberry (19.5%), and fish (12.2%).
The prevalence of mother-reported food allergy among children under 12-year old in the well baby clinic at the Al-Eskan PHC center, Makkah Al-Mokarramah, KSA, was 22.5%. The most common reported foods responsible for allergy were milk, egg, and banana. Skin symptoms were the commonly reported symptoms among the affected children. Family history of food allergy and eczema as well as introducing bottle feeding immediately after delivery were found to be significantly associated with higher rates of food allergy among children. History of allergy after first bottle feeding as well as history of allergy after weaning were significantly associated with food allergy in children.
KEY WORDS: Food, allergy, children, prevalence, risk factors, Saudi Arabia