Children with food allergies are often victims of bullying: Study

Washington, Sep 28 (ANI): In the first study of its kind, researchers have found that 35 percent of kids with food allergies, who are over the age of five, have been victims of bullying as a result of their allergies.

Mount Sinai researchers have found that approximately 35 percent of children with food allergies, who are over the age of five, were reported to have experienced bullying, teasing, or harassment as a result of their allergies.

Of those experiencing teasing or harassment, 86 percent were reported to have experienced repeated episodes.

Classmates were the most common perpetrators, but surprisingly more than 20 percent reported harassment or teasing from teachers and other school staff.

Led by Scott H. Sicherer of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, researchers analysed survey responses from 353 parents or caregivers of children with food allergies and food-allergic individuals.

"We know that food allergy in children affects quality of life and causes issues like anxiety, depression, and stress for them and their parents," said Sicherer.

"However, our study is the first to explore teasing, harassment and bullying behaviors aimed at these children. The results are disturbing, as they show that children not only have to struggle with managing their food allergies, but also commonly bear harassment from their peers," he said.

More than 43 percent were reported to have had the allergen waved in their face and 64 percent were reported as having experienced verbal teasing.

No allergic reactions resulted from the bullying, but approximately 65 percent reported resulting feelings of depression and embarrassment.

"Considering the seriousness of food allergy, these unwanted behaviors risk not only adverse emotional outcomes, but physical risks as well. It is clear that efforts to rectify this issue must address a better understanding of food allergies as well as strict no-bullying programs in schools," said Sicherer.

A previous study by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development showed that 17 percent of children in grades 6 through 10 reported being bullied.

The findings were reported in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. (ANI)

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