Study: Food Allergies Cost More For Poorest Kids

By Elizabeth Anderson, Parent Herald April 29, 07:40 pm

Poor children with food allergies in the United States pay more for medical care, according to a study from Northwestern University. Their families end up spending 2.5 times more compared to those families with higher income. These families are those that earn less than $50,000 a year.

Lead researcher Dr. Richi Gupta said that the results indicate disparities in care for poor children with food allergies. "The first line management for food allergy is prevention, but costs for special foods and epinephrine auto injectors can be a barrier for many families," Gupta said, as per Science Daily.

The Cost Of Kids' Food Allergies

The researchers did a cross-sectional study of 1,643 caregivers of children with food allergies, according to the Los Angeles Times. Three income groups were identified - families with an annual household income of less than $50,000, those who were earning $50,000 to $100,000 annually and those who were earning more than $100,000 annually.

They found that the families who earned less than $50,000 spent $1,021 annually for emergency room and hospital stays while those who earned more than $100,000 annually spent only $416. The lowest-income families spent only $228 on specialist visits compared to the highest-income group who spend $311.

Families who earned more than $100,000 annually spent $103 for pediatrician costs while those who earned less than $50,000 spent $123. Gupta, via the Los Angeles Times, said that the total cost for prevention and treatment for allergic reactions is about $24.8 billion annually.

Woes For Poorer Families

High-income families have options that may not be available for those that earn much less, Gupta said, as per Southern Carolina Public Radio (SCPR). This includes shopping at specialty stores, home cooking and cutting down on work to spend more time with a child with food allergy.

Food allergies may be preventable and an outpatient condition, but low-income families do not have the luxury of scheduled appointments and rely on the emergency room because they cannot cut work hours, said Dr. Jonathan Tam, as per SCPR.

Tam added that another reason may be the lack of money for transportation or for professional fees. Tam heads the Gores Family Food Allergy Center at the Los Angeles' Children's Hospital.

What do you think can be done to bridge the cost of treatment of food allergies between low and high income families? Write your comments below.

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