Bullying among pediatric patients with food allergy

Elliot and Roslyn Jaffe Food Allergy Institute, Division of Allergy and Immunology, Department of Pediatrics, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, New York, USA.
Annals of allergy, asthma & immunology: official publication of the American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology (Impact Factor: 2.6). 10/2010; 105(4):282-6. DOI: 10.1016/j.anai.2010.07.011
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT There are reports of children and teens with food allergy being harassed because of their food allergy, yet no study to date has attempted to characterize these occurrences.
To determine the presence and characteristics of bullying, teasing, or harassment of food-allergic patients owing to their food allergies.
Questionnaires were completed by food-allergic teens and adults and by parents of food-allergic children.
A total of 353 surveys were completed. Because most food-allergic individuals were children, most surveys were completed by parents of food-allergic individuals. The ages of the food-allergic individuals were younger than 4 years (25.9%), 4 to 11 years (55.0%), 12 to 18 years (12.5%), 19 to 25 years (2.6%), and older than 25 years (4.0%). Including all age groups, 24% of respondents reported that the food-allergic individual had been bullied, teased, or harassed because of food allergy. Of those who were bullied, teased, or harassed, 86% reported multiple episodes. Eighty-two percent of episodes occurred at school, and 80% were perpetrated mainly by classmates. Twenty-one percent of those who were bullied, teased, or harassed reported the perpetrators to be teachers or school staff. Overall, 79% of those bullied, teased, or harassed attributed this solely to food allergy. Of those bullied, 57% described physical events, such as being touched by an allergen and having an allergen thrown or waved at them, and several reported intentional contamination of their food with allergen.
Bullying, teasing, and harassment of children with food allergy seems to be common, frequent, and repetitive. These actions pose emotional and physical risks that should be addressed in food allergy management.

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    • "Additionally, plans include educating the child's peers related to the food allergies with written parental permission to share this health information. A comprehensive allergy management plan also proactively addresses issues related to emotional problems (e.g., depression, anxiety, food fears) that can be associated with either having food allergies and or with any acts of bullying that the child may experience (Lieberman et al., 2010). "
  • Annals of allergy, asthma & immunology: official publication of the American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology 12/2010; 105(6):410-1. DOI:10.1016/j.anai.2010.10.003 · 2.60 Impact Factor
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