Children with allergies are bullied more than others, a new study published in the journal Pediatrics from the Mount Sinai Hospital School of Medicine finds. The research reveals that nearly a third of children diagnosed with food allergies who participated in a recent study are bullied, according to researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Almost eight percent of children in the US are allergic to foods such as peanuts, tree-nuts, milk, eggs, and shellfish. You can read the abstract of the original latest study published online in the journal Pediatrics, “Child and Parental Reports of Bullying in a Consecutive Sample of Children With Food Allergy.”
When a child is different in any way, the difference often invites bullying. One of the ways a large number of children are different is by having specific food allergies. Often this type of difference is invisible to the eyes of other children, but the idea of being an exception to the group often invites bullying, especially food allergies or even allergies to pollen. Check out the article, “First Study of Its Kind Finds Children With Food Allergies Are Often Victims of Bullying.”
Often school cafeterias as well as many public restaurants don’t have much information on food allergies or can’t tell you whether the food contains a specific ingredient to which you may be allergic. See, “Many Restaurant Staff Are Undertrained and Misinformed About Food Allergies, Study Finds.”
Nearly half of parents surveyed (47.9 percent) were not aware of the bullying—although both the bullied children and their parents reported experiencing higher stress levels and lower quality of life. The social vulnerability that is associated with food allergy (FA) might predispose children with food allergies to bullying and harassment. Also some kids with mold allergies might think they have food allergies. It’s important to find out to what is the child allergic and how the symptoms may differ. See, Symptoms For Mold Allergy.
This study sought to quantify the extent, methods, and correlates of bullying in a cohort of food-allergic children. Also check out the article, “Foods With Baked Milk May Help Build Tolerance in Children With Dairy Allergies, Study Suggests.”
Bullying is common in food-allergic children
It is associated with lower quality of life (QoL) and distress in children and their parents. Half of the bullying cases remain unknown to parents. When parents are aware of the bullying, the child’s quality of life is better. It is important to proactively identify and address cases in this population.
The study, titled, “Child and Parental Reports of Bullying in a Consecutive Sample of Children with Food Allergy,” appears in the online issue of Pediatrics on December 24. The study was led by Eyal Shemesh, MD, Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Psychiatry at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
Dr. Shemesh and his team surveyed 251 pairs of parents and children. The patient and parent pairs were consecutively recruited during allergy clinic visits to independently answer questionnaires. Bullying due to food allergy or for any cause, quality of life, and distress in both the child and parent were evaluated using validated questionnaires.
“Parents and pediatricians should routinely ask children with food allergy about bullying,” explained Dr. Shemesh in the December 24, 2012 news release, Mount Sinai survey shows that nearly 1 in 3 children with food allergies experience bullying. “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.”
Dr. Shemesh is Director of ‘Empower’ (Enhancing, Managing, and Promoting Well-being and Resiliency), a program within Mount Sinai’s Jaffe Food Allergy Institute. Dr. Shemesh is also Chief of the Division of Behavioral and Developmental Health in the Department of Pediatrics at The Mount Sinai Medical Center. Also see the Science Daily news article, “Nearly one in three children with food allergies experience bullying.”
Are parents aware their child is being bullied due to other kids noticing symptoms of allergies or fear of what’s in food served to a group at school?
“When parents are aware of the bullying, the child’s quality of life is better,” said the senior author, Scott H. Sicherer, MD, Professor of Pediatrics, Chief, Division of Pediatric Allergy, Co-Director, ‘Empower’ program, according to the news release. “Our results should raise awareness for parents, school personnel, and physicians to proactively identify and address bullying in this population.” Also see the article, “Easing Egg Allergies With Eggs: Oral Immunotherapy Study Shows It Works.”
The work for the study was supported by the ‘Empower’ program, a program funded by a generous donation from the Jaffe Family Foundation, that is devoted to understanding and enhancing the quality of life of persons with food allergy. The Mount Sinai Medical Center encompasses both the Mount Sinai Hospital and Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and ranks among the top 20 medical schools both in National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding and by U.S. News & World Report. Check out more on the medical center on a You Tube video. Or check out the Facebook site, or at Twitter.