Parental perceptions, experiences, and help-seeking behaviour for common infant symptoms: qualitative interview study
- Principal Investigator: Ingrid Muller
- 1 October 2021 to 30 September 2022
- Project No: 536
- Funding round: FR1
Infants commonly experience symptoms in the first year of life, such as excessive crying or vomiting, that concern parents and carers and lead them to seek advice and support from healthcare professionals. There are many causes of these symptoms, including constipation or overfeeding, and simple advice can often lead to resolution of symptoms. Other causes can be cow’s milk protein allergy (CMPA) or gastro-oesophageal reflux and prescribing for both of these has risen dramatically in the past few years. This may be related to marketing by pharmaceutical companies and formula manufacturers, which have shifted lay and professional attention to cow’s milk protein allergy (CMPA) or gastro-oesophageal reflux as common causes of these symptoms. Medicines may be given to help manage gastro-oesophageal reflux, but these medicines can cause side-effects. Similarly, excluding dairy from the diet of the breastfeeding mum and infant is difficult and may have negative effects, including stopping breastfeeding early. Specialised formula milk is costly and often not well tolerated. Little is known about how parents and carers make sense of common infant symptoms, where they seek help, or how it affects their feeding decisions.
We aim to interview parents and carers of infants (under 12 months in age) to explore their understanding of symptoms and their feeding decisions and help-seeking behaviour. A better understanding of parents and carers’ experiences and actions will inform future research on how healthcare professionals can best help parents and carers look after infants while avoiding unnecessary or excessive use of medications. One of our team members is the parent of a child with suspected food allergy and we have had input on this research plan from a further four mothers of children with allergy symptoms in their first year.
Amount awarded: £43,324