by Jackie Sinnerton
KIDS with food allergies are being bullied by jealous peers who intentionally wave life threatening allergens in their face.
Australian researchers have studied shocking evidence from other countries and believe the escalating problem is of "grave concern" and needs more investigation in Australia. Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia (A & AA) backs the call.
"We are certainly aware of cases of this kind of bullying in Australia," A & AA chief Maria Said said.
"There is a lack of respect and understanding around allergies generally and when it comes to children there can be an element of jealousy - some don't like the special attention focused on the food allergic children," Ms Said said.
"Then there are just cases where the bully likes to pick on the kid with allergies."
A new report in the Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health highlights that up to 30% of kids internationally have reported being bullied because of their allergy.
Some have been touched with allergens such as peanut butter or had their food deliberately contaminated.
Andrew Fong from The University of New South Wales told 7News: "Some of the things include things as scary as being forced to eat the food they're allergic to, or people tricking them into eating food."
Food allergy affects one in 12 children in Australia.
The authors highlighted that many children with allergies are already isolated, separated from peers at meal times and social activities are often restricted.
Early learning centres are striving to deliver the message of respecting those with food allergies.
The most common triggers of food allergic reactions in childhood are peanuts, tree nuts, milk and egg.
Common triggers of food allergy in adults are fish, shellfish, peanut and tree nuts.
Many children outgrow their allergies.