Parental perceptions in egg allergy: does egg challenge make a difference?
The aim of the study was to determine the effect of an oral egg challenge in egg sensitized children on parental perceptions relating to their child's allergy. A questionnaire was completed by parents for 167 children attending a tertiary paediatric clinic with egg sensitization. The questionnaires included 10 questions concerning parental perceptions of their child's egg allergy. Parental perceptions of those children who had not had an egg challenge (n = 83) were compared with those whose children had a positive (n = 27) and those with a negative (n = 57) egg challenge. A significant difference (p = < or =0.02) was observed between challenge positive(CP) and challenge negative (CN) subjects in reported changes to lifestyle and the fact that more parents in the CN group expected little or no future inconvenience for the child. The responses of parents whose child had undergone an egg challenge differed significantly (p = < or =0.005) from those not challenged with a significant reduction in the following parameters; the effect on out-of-home care arrangements, the perception of being more severe as compared to other common childhood illnesses, whether they found egg allergy to be moderately or very stressful, whether their lifestyle was changed, the expectation of little or no future discomfort for the child and whether others treated the child differently. The performance of an egg challenge was associated with reduced adverse parental concerns. For 6/10 parameters, expectations concerning egg allergy in children who had been challenged were significantly better than those who had never been challenged irrespective of the challenge outcome. The greater certainty provided by the performance of a food challenge may be a positive outcome in both CP and CN children.