Nearly one-third of children diagnosed with food allergies are bullied, according to a new survey.
Researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai report that nearly half of parents surveyed (48 percent) were not aware of the bullying — although both the children and their parents reported experiencing higher stress levels and lower quality of life.
Almost 8 percent of children in the U.S. are allergic to foods such as peanuts, milk, eggs, and shellfish.
For the study, led by Eyal Shemesh, M.D., associate professor of pediatrics and psychiatry, researchers surveyed 251 pairs of parents and children recruited during visits to an allergy clinic.
Bullying, quality of life, and distress in both the child and parent were evaluated using questionnaires.
“Parents and pediatricians should routinely ask children with food allergy about bullying,” said Shemesh. “Finding out about the child’s experience might allow targeted interventions, and would be expected to reduce additional stress and improve quality of life for these children trying to manage their food allergies.”
“When parents are aware of the bullying, the child’s quality of life is better,” added the senior author, Scott H. Sicherer, M.D. “Our results should raise awareness for parents, school personnel, and physicians to proactively identify and address bullying in this population.”
The study was published in the online issue of Pediatrics.
Source: Mount Sinai School of Medicine