Children with potentially deadly nut allergies are being bullied for being different, say researchers.
And their parents are stigmatised as ‘neurotic and attention-seeking’ by other parents, they found.
Relatives of some victims of the condition are even suspected of deliberately giving a child nuts to check they really are allergic.
Overall, the impact of a nut allergy is so great that it could be considered a disability, the Leicester University researchers found.
They interviewed 26 families from the Leicester area about their experiences.
Other youngsters were stigmatised at lunchtime, when they sat apart from other youngsters who had brought peanut butter sandwiches with them.
Some of the parents were so worried about their children coming into contact with peanuts that they stopped them from going to birthday parties or eating out.
Others felt they had no option but to hover over them at parties – when they experienced prejudice themselves.
The researchers said: ‘Parents vividly described how not everyone accepted it as an authentic condition with potentially deadly implications, instead seeing it as a frivolous and self-indulgent fad invented and maintained by neurotic, attention-seeking people.
'This meant that parents struggled to preserve their own identity as sensible, credible people who deserved to be taken seriously.’