Almost eight percent of children in the US are allergic to foods such as peanuts, tree-nuts, milk, eggs, and shellfish.
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, according to researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
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. 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,” said Dr. Shemesh.
“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.
“Our results should raise awareness for parents, school personnel, and physicians to proactively identify and address bullying in this population,” he added.
The findings appeared in the online issue of Pediatrics.