Duration of a cow-milk exclusion diet worsens parents’ perception of quality of life in children with food allergies

BACKGROUND:

In Italy, rigorous studies obtained with specific and validated questionnaires that explore the impact of exclusion diets on health-related quality of life (HRQoL) in children with food allergies are lacking. In this cross-sectional study, we wished to validate the Italian version of a disease-specific quality of life questionnaire, and assess the impact of exclusion diets on the HRQoL in a cohort of Italian children with IgE-mediated food allergies.

METHODS:

Children on an exclusion diet for ≥1 food were enrolled consecutively, and their parents completed the validated Italian version of the Food Allergy Quality of Life Questionnaire-Parent Form (FAQLQ-PF) and Food Allergy Independent Measure (FAIM).

RESULTS:

Ninety-six parents of children aged 0-12 years answered the FAQLQ-PF. The validity of the construct of the questionnaire was assessed by correlation between the FAQLQ-PF and FAIM-PF (r = 0.85). The Italian version of the FAQLQ had good internal consistency (Cronbach’s α >0.70). Factors that mainly influenced the HRQoL were older age, severity of food allergy, and the duration of the cow milk-exclusion diet.

CONCLUSIONS:

The FAQLQ-PF, validated in Italian, is a reliable instrument. Worse QoL scores were observed among older children, those with severe systemic reactions, and those with a prolonged cow milk-free diet. It is very important to consider the QoL assessment as an integral part of food-allergy management. These results emphasize the need to administer exclusion diets only for the necessary time and the importance of assessment of the HRQoL in these patients.