When children have food allergies, their parents have to constantly watch out for allergens and be prepared for a possible reaction.
Another concern, and one that is often overlooked, is bullying.
A new study, published online in the journal Pediatrics, found that more than 30 percent of children have been harassed by their classmates because of their allergies, and that parents are only aware of it about half of the time.
“It’s very easy to intimidate a food-allergic child,” said study author Dr. Eyal Shemesh, chief of the division of behavioral and developmental health in the Department of Pediatrics at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York.
“It doesn’t take more than waving a peanut in front of them.”
Shemesh and his colleagues surveyed 251 families recruited at a food allergy clinic.
Overall, 45 percent of the children and teens — who were between the ages of 8 and 17 — said they’d been bullied, and 31.5 percent said it was because of their food allergy.
The bullying was most likely to happen while they were in school and included others teasing them, waving food in their face, throwing food at them, or forcing them to touch the food that triggers their allergies.
The more frequent the bullying, the worse the child’s quality of life, the study found.
But just one instance of bullying took a toll on kids’ happiness, according to self-reports.
The study also showed there is a significant gap in how much parents know about bullying — they only knew about 50 percent of the cases of harassment.
When moms and dads did know about the bullying, their children reported a higher quality of life, which suggests that parents can help, Shemesh said.– Huffington Post