Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : December 30th 2014 Contents A28
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Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Tuesday, December 30, 2014
Mothers of children with food allergies look to
dieticians for advice on nutrition, but also for
emotional support as they try to protect their kids
and give them a normal life, say UK researchers.
"From clinical practice I know that mothers/par-
ents do not just want the dietary advice we give,
but also the emotional support and that person on
my side , but I had no study that I could refer to,"
Carina Venter told Reuters Health in an e-mail.
"A dietitian can help parents with advice on food
avoidance, information on suitable foods, lifestyle
advice, bringing normality into their lives and provide
some emotional support," said Venter, a dietitian
and researcher at the University of Portsmouth, and
senior author of the study.
It s well known that dietitians can provide parents
with elimination diets and nutritional advice, Venter
and her coauthors write in Annals of Allergy, Asthma
and Immunology. But the study team wanted to
know what other types of information parents need
from a consultation.
They enrolled 17 mothers of 19 children with food
allergies into focus groups. Each mother had con-
sulted with a dietitian at least once before the study.
Based on the discussions, the study team identified
six major themes that came up repeatedly. The
mothers wanted to protect their kids and become
food allergy experts in order to do so. These themes
were most important after the child s allergy was
Later on, the mothers wanted to learn more about
promoting a normal, independent lifestyle for their
The mothers also said they wanted someone to
be an advocate in helping to deal with healthcare
providers, child caregivers and others who may be
less sensitive to the day-to-day difficulties that
come with the child s condition. The mothers also
wanted emotional support as they waged those bat-
"I think for me the main finding from our results
was the varied needs and range of needs that parents
have in dealing with food allergies in their child,
particularly the need regarding emotional support,"
Venter said. "That highlights the fact that dietitians
need training to develop these skills or that the role
of a psychologist in the Allergy Clinic should not
Vandana Sheth, a Torrance, California-based reg-
istered dietician and spokesperson for the Academy
Of Nutrition and Dietetics, said that mothers of
kids with food allergies can be quite overwhelmed
"Registered dietitian nutritionists who specialise
in food allergies are uniquely qualified in helping
them identify practical ways to meet their child s
nutritional needs without significantly more work,"
Sheth told Reuters Health in an e-mail.
Sheth, who was not involved in the UK study,
said that food allergy nutrition education needs to
"Once food allergens have been identified through
testing and food history, dietitians can help families
identify key substitutions for foods to be avoided"
Dietitians can also help parents with grocery store
shopping tips, reading food labels, planning for
snacks and meals at school, ideas for celebrations,
dining out, strategies to help the child thrive and
participate in all activities while being safe, Sheth
"Dietitians can also guide role play situations so
that the child knows how to respond in different
social situations around food," she said.
Sheth said that parents in the US can go to the
Academy website eatright.org and use the "find a
dietitian" tab to find a dietitian near where they
"However, the key is to find someone who is
knowledgeable and experienced in working with
food allergies," she said. "Before scheduling a session,
feel free to ask them questions about their specific
background and experience in the field."
Sheth said parents could also ask their pediatric
allergists if they work with a dietitian.
"Living with food allergies can be quite over-
whelming," she said. "However, with education,
and support you can be in control and enjoy life
to the fullest." (Reuters)
Mothers of food-allergic kids want
more than menus from dieticians
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