Nut allergies should be considered a disability, researchers say

Nut allergy should be considered a form of disability, rather than a long-term condition, because of the way it affects families' lives, researchers have suggested.

Nut allergy can have an impact on the lives of parents and children
Nut allergy can have an impact on the lives of parents and children

Dr Mary Dixon-Woods and colleagues from London School of Economics interviewed 35 parents of children with nut allergies patients and 12 children with nut allergies.

The researchers found that diagnosis of a nut allergy created challenges for parents and children.

‘The advice given by the allergy clinic to avoid nuts had a huge impact on families’ lives,’ they said. ‘The diagnosis had both practical consequences and social consequences.’

Parents and children experienced negative attitudes from within and outside the immediate family, compounded by poor labelling and control of food products, the researchers found.

Dr Mary Dixon-Woods and colleagues said: ‘Families suggested that the failure to address the needs of people with nut allergy amounted to a form of social exclusion or discrimination, particularly when their needs are compared with those of vegetarians or others with food restrictions.’

They added: ‘In many ways, then, nut allergy is more properly considered a form of disability rather than a chronic illness, though parents and children do report some of the features of a chronic illness as aspects of their experience.’

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