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One third of children with food allergies experience bullying

The authors of a new study have said parents and doctors should routinely ask children with food allergies about bullying.

Image: Suzanne Tucker via Shutterstock

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 in New York.

Nearly half of parents surveyed 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 study, titled, ‘Child and Parental Reports of Bullying in a Consecutive Sample of Children with Food Allergy,’ appears in the online issue of Pediatrics today.

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 the validated questionnaires.

“Parents and pediatricians should routinely ask children with food allergy about bullying,” said Dr. 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,” said the senior author, Scott H. Sicherer, MD. “Our results should raise awareness for parents, school personnel, and physicians to pro-actively identify and address bullying in this population.”

The work for the study was supported by the EMPOWER (Enhancing, Managing, and Promoting Well-being and Resiliency) programme, a program funded by a generous donation from the Jaffe Family Foundation, an organisation aimed at enhancing the quality of life of persons with food allergy.

Read: Sinn Féin publishes legislation on school bullying>

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