Feeding difficulties in children with food allergies: An EAACI Task Force Report

Feeding difficulties in children with food allergies: An EAACI Task Force Report

Abstract

The term “feeding difficulties” refers to a spectrum of phenotypes characterized by suboptimal intake of food and/or lack of age-appropriate eating habits. While it is evident that feeding difficulties are prevalent within healthy children, no consensus has been reached for those with food allergies. The aim of this study was to systematically review all the available literature reporting the prevalence of feeding difficulties within food allergic children. We searched eight international electronic databases for all published studies until June 2022. International experts in the field were also contacted for unpublished and ongoing studies. All publications were screened against pre-defined eligibility criteria and critically appraised by established instruments. The substantial heterogeneity of included studies precluded meta-analyses, so narrative synthesis of quantitative data was performed. A total of 2059 abstracts were assessed, out of which 21 underwent full-text screening and 10 studies met the study criteria. In these, 12 different terms to define feeding difficulties and 11 diagnostic tools were used. Five papers included data of feeding difficulty prevalence in children with food allergies, ranging from 13.6% to 40%. Higher prevalence was associated with multiple food allergies. The current literature suggests that feeding difficulties are prevalent within food allergic children, particularly those with multiple food allergies. However, the heterogeneity of terminologies and diagnostic tools makes drawing conclusions challenging. Consensus guidelines for the diagnosis and management of feeding difficulties within food allergic children and further research on the development and perpetuation of feeding difficulties are needed to appropriately manage such patients.