An exploration into the knowledge mothers have of food allergy in children under five in two Ghanaian hospitals.

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Food allergy is an abnormal response to a food triggered by the body’s immune system. It is a challenge and an important public health concern that affects children and adults and which may be increasing in prevalence. Approximately 6% of infants and young children have food allergies and it is important that mothers know of the condition. The objective of this study was to assess the awareness of food allergies in mothers of children under five (5) in the Maternal and Child Health Care Hospital (MCHH) and the Asokwa Children’s Hospital to ascertain whether they can identify symptoms of the condition and find out their ways of managing the condition. A cross sectional survey was undertaken in the two hospitals in the months of January and February 2015. Purposive sampling was used to select 500 mothers. Data was collected using questionnaires. The study found out that, 63% of mothers had no knowledge of food allergies and mother’s awareness of food allergy was closely linked to their level of education and this was found to be highly significant (p=0.002). The number of tertiary educated women who said they were aware of food allergy was (54%) as compared to the other levels of education ; basic education (31%) and secondary/post-secondary education (42%). The study found out that 4.4 percent of the 500 children had been diagnosed with food allergy and other children who reported symptoms of two or more gastrointestinal reactions (10.6%), respiratory reactions (29.2%) and cutaneous/skin reactions symptoms (17.2% ) had not been diagnosed with food allergy. The foods causing most allergies were hen’s egg (1.6%) banana (0.6%) followed by dairy products, groundnuts, and palmnut (0.4%) with the least being seeds (0.2%).
A thesis submitted to the School of Public Health, college of Health Sciences, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi in partial fulfilment of requirements for master of public health (mph) degree Health Education and Promotion, 2016.