ADHD and Diet
A study by Pelsser et al looked into the effects of an elimination diet on the behavior of children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). They carried out a two-stage trial, to find out whether a restricted diet might be helpful, and whether allergy testing or reintroducing certain foods could help identify safe foods and problem foods.
The diet was very restricted involving only a few foods that were deemed to be less likely to cause allergic reactions including rice, turkey, lamb, lettuce, carrots, cabbage, pears and water. Other foods such as potatoes, corn, wheat and other fruit, were added in a controlled way, with a dietician advising in each child’s case, to find a suitable diet for that child.
At the end of this first five week phase of the study, two-thirds of the children on the restrictive diet had significant improvements in their symptoms of ADHD with a significant decrease in their challenging or defiant behavior.
Children then had blood tests, that measured IgG, to see if their immune systems reacted strongly to certain foods, which could indicate an allergy. They found that re-introducing foods based on the results of the blood tests didn’t work - some children’s behavior got worse when certain foods were reintroduced, whether their blood tests showed an allergic reaction or not.
They arrived at two main conclusions:
- A strictly supervised restricted elimination diet is a valuable instrument to assess whether ADHD is induced by food.
- The prescription of diets on the basis of IgG blood tests should be discouraged.
Pelsser LM, Frankena K, Toorman J, et al. Effects of a restricted elimination diet on the behaviour of children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (INCA study): a randomised controlled trial. Lancet. 2011; 377: 494-503.
Dietary Sensitivities and ADHD Symptoms: Thirty-five Years of Research
Evidence has been suggesting that artificial food colors are a cause of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in some children. Oligoantigenic diet studies suggested that some children in addition to being sensitive to food colors were also sensitive to common nonsalicylate foods (milk, chocolate, soy, eggs, wheat, corn, legumes) as well as salicylate-containing grapes, tomatoes, and orange. Some studies found "cosensitivity" to be more the rule than the exception. Two large studies demonstrated behavioral sensitivity to artificial food colors and benzoate in children both with and without ADHD.
Stevens et al concluded that a trial elimination diet is appropriate for children who have not responded satisfactorily to conventional treatment or whose parents wish to pursue a dietary investigation
Dietary Sensitivities and ADHD Symptoms: Thirty-five Years of Research. Stevens LJ, Kuczek T, Burgess JR, Hurt E, Arnold LE. Clin Pediatr (Phila). 2010 Dec 2
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Pesticides
Bouchard et al looked into the links between urinary concentrations of dialkyl phosphate metabolites of organophosphates and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children 8 to 15 years of age.
They found that ,for dimethyl thiophosphate, children with levels higher than the median of detectable concentrations had twice the odds of ADHD, compared with children with undetectable levels.
Their findings led them to conclude that organophosphate exposure, at levels common among US children, may contribute to ADHD prevalence.
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and urinary metabolites of organophosphate pesticides. Bouchard MF, Bellinger DC, Wright RO, Weisskopf MG. Pediatrics. 2010 Jun;125(6):e1270-7. Epub 2010 May 17.