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Bullied Over Food Allergies

Surveys: 1 in 3 Kids With Food Allergies Teased or Harassed

Bullying, Food Allergies on Rise continued...

"One child had an allergic reaction as a result," Morris tells WebMD.

Eight of the 11 children had also been bullied for other reasons, including their size or age.

The second survey, led by Scott Sicherer, MD, of Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City, involved 111 food-allergic children aged 8 to 17 in that city. Their parents were also surveyed.

Overall, 29% were "bullied, harassed, or teased" due to their food allergies.

Sicherer's previous survey, in 2010, was the first to show that food allergies can make kids -- and adults -- a target of bullying.

Tips for Parents

While much larger surveys are needed to draw firm conclusions about the proportion of kids bullied due to food allergies, the findings sound a cautionary note for parents, Mahr says.

"Open a dialogue with your child so they know it’s OK to talk to you about the problem. A lot of kids are embarrassed to mention being teased or abused, or are afraid their parents will make the situation worse," he says.

Also, "talk to the staff at school to ensure they know about the potential problem. It's important to deal with this early so it doesn’t become a pattern," Mahr says.

These findings were presented at a medical conference. They should be considered preliminary as they have not yet undergone the "peer review" process, in which outside experts scrutinize the data prior to publication in a medical journal.

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