Diet and Stress in Pediatric Eosinophilic Esophagitis

When it comes to eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE), I sometimes worry that some treatments are worse than the disease, depending on the severity of the EoE. A recent study (C Case et al. JPGN 2017; 65: 281-84) indicates that dietary therapy is often stressful for families.

This study examined children ages 2-18 during an annual American Partnership for Eosinophilic Diseases (APFED.org) patient education conference. What I found most interesting was Table 3. “Stress associated with eosinophilc esophagitis.”

Some of the data:

  • In response to ‘how stressful do you find the following since your child’s diagnosis of EoE?’ Family structure at mealtimes: Not stressful 13.5%, somewhat stressful 21.6%, moderate stressful 16.2%, significant stressful 32.4%, and severe stressful 16.2%
  • In response to ‘how stressful do you find the following since your child’s diagnosis of EoE? Buying and cooking separate foods/meals for your child: Not stressful 2.6%, somewhat stressful 21.1%, moderate stressful 21.1%, significant stressful 31.6%, and severe stressful 23.7%
  • In response to ‘how stressful do you find the following since your child’s diagnosis of EoE? Financial strain due to cost of food: Not stressful 10.5%, somewhat stressful 21.1%, moderate stressful 18.4%, significant stressful 23.7%, and severe stressful 36.3%
  • What is your current stress level in response to your child’s EoE? Not stressful 2.6%, somewhat stressful 15.8%, moderate stressful 36.8%, significant stressful 42.1%, and severe stressful 2.6%
  • 62% of respondents indicated that child’s EoE has affected marital relationship.

In addition, the study documented that “half of youth were affected by worry, anger, and sadness related to specialized diets.”  As this study relied on participants at an APFED meeting, this could skew the EoE population to be more severely affected.

My take: This study shows the emotional burden that dietary treatment of EoE places on families.

Related blog posts:

Berry College

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