TORONTO, Nov. 17, 2014 /CNW/ - A team of young adults in major centres across Canada have been mobilized to speak out about their experiences of being bullied because of their food allergies.
Launched by Allerject™, the national initiative is aimed at raising awareness and helping in the prevention of food allergy bullying. It is an issue that affects thousands of kids.
About 300,000 Canadian children (under 18) have food allergies.1 According to research, approximately one third of food-allergic children report that they have been bullied specifically because of their food allergies.2
Often, they are bullied by their classmates who may taunt them with the very food that can trigger a severe and possibly life-threatening reaction.3
Dylan Brennan, 24, is one of the Team Allerject™ members. He is allergic to peanuts and tree nuts, and he recalls being bullied in grade school because of his allergies. "We were on the school bus, and this one kid reached into his bag and pulled out a peanut butter sandwich and waved it around saying 'What are you gonna do about it now?' It was a scary situation."
Members of Team Allerject™, who are in their late teens or early 20s, have all experienced being bullied because of their allergies, and each is passionate about sharing their story as a way to focus public attention and empower others to take appropriate action. The program is being launched to coincide with Bullying Awareness and Prevention Week (Nov. 16-22).
Studies have found that:
- kids with food allergies are twice as likely to be bullied as non-allergic children4
- among those bullied, 86% report multiple episodes5
- in addition to the food allergy, those bullied felt it was done because of having to carry an epinephrine auto-injector or other medications, having to be secluded in special groups, or having to receive special treatment6
- in almost half the cases, the children do not report the bullying to their parents7
"Learning from the experience of others can help children and youth with food allergies feel more empowered to manage instances of bullying", says Laurie Harada, Anaphylaxis Canada Executive Director, and mother of a young adult with multiple food allergies. "Our hope is that greater awareness about this issue will lead to increased respect and support for children with food allergies."
"Food allergy bullying can cause emotional harm as well as pose a significant physical risk," says Allerject™ spokesperson Elizabeth Monk. "We're leading this initiative because of our commitment to improving the lives of those at risk of severe allergic reactions."
Allerject™ is the first and only epinephrine auto-injector with voice instructions. As well, it is designed to be compact, convenient and discreet to carry – it fits comfortably in a pocket or small purse. Allerject™ is distributed by Sanofi Canada. To learn more, visit www.allerject.ca.
For information about Team Allerject™, go to www.allerject.ca where you'll find members' stories and photos, as well as a tips on food allergy bullying awareness and prevention.
Sanofi, a global healthcare leader, discovers, develops and distributes therapeutic solutions focused on patients' needs. Sanofi has core strengths in the field of healthcare with seven growth platforms: diabetes solutions, human vaccines, innovative drugs, consumer healthcare, emerging markets, animal health and the new Genzyme. Sanofi is listed in Paris (EURONEXT: SAN) and in New York (NYSE: SNY).
Sanofi entities in Canada include Sanofi Canada (pharmaceuticals), Sanofi Pasteur (vaccines), Sanofi Consumer Health (cosmeceuticals, over-the-counter products and specialty care), Genzyme (rare diseases) and Merial (animal health). Together they employ close to 1,700 people across the country. In 2013 Sanofi companies invested $129.1 million in R&D in Canada, creating jobs, business and opportunity throughout the country.
1 Anaphylaxis Canada. http://www.anaphylaxis.ca/en/i_want/anaphylaxis101/key_facts.html
2 Shemesh E et al., Child and Parental Reports of Bullying in a Consecutive Sample of Children with Food Allergy, Pediatrics 2013;131:e10–e17.
4 Muraro A et al., Comparison of bullying of food-allergic versus healthy school children in Italy, J Allergy Clin Immunol., 2014 Sep;134(3):749-51.
5 Lieberman JA et al., Bullying among pediatric patients with food allergy, Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2010; 105:282-286.
7 Shemesh E et al., Child and Parental Reports of Bullying in a Consecutive Sample of Children with Food Allergy, Pediatrics 2013;131:e10–e17.
SOURCE: Sanofi Canada
For further information: To arrange an interview with a member of Team Allerject™, please contact: Niki Kerimova, PR POST, 416-777-0368, [email protected]