FRIDAY, Jan. 28 (HealthDay News) -- Children and teens with
potentially life-threatening food allergies may feel unsafe,
isolated and excluded in their schools, a small study suggests.
Researchers interviewed 10 children, aged 8 to 12, and 10
teenagers in Canada whose food allergies were severe enough that
they had to carry injectable adrenaline in case they suffered an
Compared to the children, teens felt less confident about their
surroundings at high school and the information about food
allergies possessed by school personnel and parents.
High schools were viewed as less safe because they didn't have
homerooms, there were unsupervised lunch areas where food fights
sometimes break out, and fewer staff who knew about food allergies.
Elementary schools were considered safer because there was a
stronger parental presence and consistent routines involving lunch
rooms, trained staff, and communication strategies.
The children and teens felt the greatest threats to their safety
came from uninformed friends, school personnel and the parents of
other students. Many also said a number of environmental and social
barriers led to them being teased and feeling isolated and
The children tended to rely on parents and teachers to cope,
while the teens often fended for themselves by avoiding risky
foods, educating others about food allergies, trying to understand
confusing food labels, and quickly leaving unsafe places. Some said
they felt disempowered and overburdened and even developed habits
such as constant hand washing or delaying eating until they knew
there was an adult present who could drive them to the hospital if
they suffered an allergic reaction.
The findings, published in the January issue of the journal
Risk Analysis, provide information for food-allergic children and their parents to influence school policies about food allergy risk management and coping, said the researchers in a journal news release.
Because of its limited size, the study should merely be
considered exploratory, the authors said.
In the United States, as many as 200 young children die annually
from serious food allergies, according to the news release.
The U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
has more about