Third of kids with food allergies bullied

Dec. 26, 2012 at 12:19 AM
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NEW YORK, Dec. 25 (UPI) -- Nearly a third of U.S. children with food allergies are bullied, researchers say.

That is nearly double the rate of 17 percent Rutgers University researchers found for all children. About 8 percent of all children have food allergies.

Dr. Eyal Shemesh, associate professor at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, who was the leader for the latest study, found nearly half of parents surveyed were not aware of the bullying suffered by their children for being allergic to foods such as peanuts, milk, eggs and shellfish.

Shemesh and his team surveyed 251 pairs of parents and children. The patient and parents were recruited during allergy clinic visits to independently answer questionnaires.

Bullying due to food allergy can be detrimental to the quality of life and cause distress in both the child and parent, the study found.

"Parents and pediatricians should routinely ask children with food allergy about bullying," Shemesh said in a statement. "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."

The researchers also found when parents were aware of the bullying, the child's quality of life was better, the study said.

The findings were published online ahead of the print edition of the journal Pediatrics.

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