Food Allergy Management Has Been Negatively Impacted During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Elif Soyak Aytekin
Sevda Tüten Dal
Hilal Ünsal
Ayşegül Akarsu
Melike Ocak
Ümit Murat Şahiner
Özge Uysal Soyer
Bülent Enis Şekerel

Abstract

Objective: The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic creates secondary problems for the health care system, and understanding specific issues can guide the management of the pandemic and its future consequences. We aimed to characterize the problems and related risk factors experienced with outpatient compliance and dietary compliance of children with food allergies during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Materials and Methods: A cross-sectional survey was conducted on the mothers of children with ongoing food allergies, eight months after Turkey’s first confirmed case of COVID 19.

Results: Of the 288 patients, 76.3% and 40.2% were non-adherent to their scheduled appointments and oral food challenge, respectively, during the pandemic. The group non-adherent to their scheduled visit was significantly older (p=0.005), had more frequent home food trials without the consent of their physicians (p<0.001), and had less usable epinephrine auto-injectors (EAI) available compared with the adherent group (p<0.001). Eighty-nine patients (30.9%) with home food trial experience had more essential food allergies (p<0.001) and experienced more allergic reactions (p=0.002), compared with patients who adhered to dietary elimination. Thirty parents (10.4%) eliminated some foods from their children’s diet because of the suspected reactions.

Conclusion: The COVID-19 pandemic, significantly reduces adherence with scheduled appointments and OFC, and increases home food trials and food eliminations without physician approval.

Keywords

The COVID-19 pandemic, food allergy, compliance, telemedicine, oral food challenge
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