Many children with food allergies bullied

Sept. 28, 2010 at 9:46 PM
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NEW YORK, Sept. 28 (UPI) -- More than one-third of school-age children with food allergies report being bullied by classmate, teachers and school staff, U.S. researchers find.

Researchers at Mount Sinai Hospital and Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York say their survey indicates 35 percent of children age 5 and older who have food allergies reported experiencing bullying, teasing or harassment.

The study, published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, reports classmates were the most common perpetrators. However, the researchers say they were surprised more than 20 percent reported harassment or teasing came from teachers and other school staff.

"We know that food allergy in children affects quality of life and causes issues like anxiety, depression, and stress for them and their parents," Dr. Scott Sicherer, the study leader, said in a statement.

"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."

Sicherer and colleagues analyzed survey responses from 353 parents or caregivers of children with food allergies and food-allergic individuals.

The survey was conducted at meetings of the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network in Tarrytown, N.Y., Rosemont, Ill., and Baltimore in 2009.

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