Medical Minute 12-2: Bullies and Your Kids: The Food Allergy Factor

By: Ramin Khalili Email
By: Ramin Khalili Email

They don't look different, but they feel that way.

"I had to sit at a different table than other people because they had peanut butter and I couldn't sit by my friends," said Noah Smith.

"If somebody wanted to touch me and they just ate some peanut butter sandwich, peanuts, they'll have to wash their hands," said Rowan Mondel.

Rowan and Noah are just two of the three million kids with food allergies.

"I feel like in some ways he's being isolated," said Mary Kate Mondel, Rowan's Mom.

Dr. Scott Sicherer at Mount Sinai school of Medicine is the first to study links between bullying and food allergies. Turns out 35% of kids with allergies over 5 years old are bullied, teased or harassed.

"Ha, ha ... you can't eat this! And even threatening things like: I'm going to put this into your food! Waving this peanut at you. I'm going to throw it at you or rub it on you and occasionally that even happens," said Scott Sicherer, M.D., Mt. Sinai School of Medicine.

The warning signs are similar to other forms of bullying. A child may be withdrawn or won't want to go to school. These kids may also change their eating habits or come home hungry.

"My biggest fear is that he would sit alone at the peanut free table," said Mary Kate Mondel.

In 1997, one in 250 kids had a peanut allergy. Today; it's one in 70 kids. At Duke University, a study to alter kids' immune systems through small doses of peanut powder is underway.The results, 25 percent lost their allergy altogether, and nearly 90% can tolerate some peanuts after treatment.

"Oh, It's so nerve wracking," said Mary Kate Mondel.

Rowan's mom knows this battle takes daily discipline and some thick skin too.

For More Information, Contact: Scott H. Sicherer, MDThe Mount Sinai Medical Center(212) 241-5548scott.scherer@mssm.edu


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