Many Parents Falsely Believe They Have Food Allergies, Study Suggests

Just because your daughter needs to avoid peanut butter doesn't mean you have to, too.

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Taking care of a child who has severe food allergies can be stressful to say the least. As a parent, you're constantly monitoring what they eat (or what other people eat around them) in order to avoid scary allergic reactions... and don't even get us started on the financial stress of paying for the all-too-expensive (but absolutely necessary) EpiPens.

Helping your child avoid allergens can sometimes feel like a full-time job — and you might have even eliminated their problem foods from your own diet, if only to keep them safer. But if you're starting to think you might have your child's food allergy, too? Chances are you're wrong, new research suggests.

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The October 2016 study, published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, involved nearly 2,500 parents of children with food allergies in Chicago. After filling out surveys about their own allergies, these parents underwent two types of allergy testing: a skin-prick test and a blood test.

In their surveys, about 14 percent of the parents said they suffered from food allergies. But their test results said something different: Of those parents who claimed to have various food allergies, only about 28 percent of them were found to actually have them. That means a whopping 72 percent of the parents in this study who claimed to have food allergies, well... didn't. Whoa.

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So what gives? The study's researchers admitted to being surprised that so many parents would falsely report food allergies, especially when they have children who deal with them and therefore should be more aware of what they entail. But, as the researchers also acknowledged, it's entirely possible that they really did have these allergies as children and ultimately grew out of them — or that their kids have made them hyper-aware of even the smallest food sensitivities.

Still, this study begs one big question: Are food allergies hereditary? For now, the answer is still unclear: Although the nearly 9 percent of parents who tested positive for peanut allergies in this study outnumber the roughly 7 percent of the general population that suffer from peanut allergies, the researchers say "these actual differences are more modest than one might expect if food allergy is highly determined by genetics." (Read: More research is needed to determine if we can pass on food allergies to our kiddos. Womp womp.)

In the end, if you have a kid with food allergies and think you might have them, too, talk to your doctor about getting tested. Because when it comes to severe food allergies, it's always better to be safe than sorry.

[h/t Live Science]

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