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Wednesday 19th June 2019

Certain foods trigger ADHD in children

7th February 2011

Food may play a role in the development of child attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), according to a recent Dutch study.


Children with ADHD often have trouble sitting still long enough to concentrate.

The disorder is thought to be neurological, involving the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), and inherited.

But the researchers also found that food allergies may in fact contribute to the development of ADHD in children.

The researchers assigned children to diets both high and low in immunoglobin G (IgG), a substance which causes allergic reactions in most human beings.

For the study, the researchers assigned 50 children to a very minimal diet, which was designed to be as low as possible in allergy-causing substances.

As a control, 50 other children were not assigned to any particular diet, but simply ate what their parents gave them.

All of the children were either Belgian or Dutch, and all of them had been diagnosed with ADHD.

Astoundingly, 78% of the children assigned to the restricted diet showed signs of heightened concentration.

When the researchers then replaced the high-IgG foods in the childrens' diets, most of the children started having problems concentrating again.

Jan Buitelaar, a professor at the the Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, and his colleague Lidy Pelsser of the ADHD Research Centre in Eindhoven, said that dietary intervention should be considered in all children with ADHD.

The researchers said parents would first need to put their children on a minimalistic diet low in IgG, for a 5-week period.

Jim Stevenson, of the University of Southampton, said that the study provided further evidence for the potential value of dietary approaches to the treatment of ADHD.

The researchers said that children who reacted favourably to the new diet should be diagnosed with food-induced ADHD, and enter a challenge procedure to define which foods each child reacted to.

Stevenson said that ADHD was a condition that disrupted family life, interfered with a child's ability to sustain friendships with other children, and placed children at risk of longer term problems with attainment in school.

However, David Daley a professor at Nottingham University's institute of mental health, said that while he thought the paper offered excellent evidence about another possible underlying cause of ADHD, doctors and parents needed more information about the actual cost of the dietary approach.

He also said he felt it would be premature to make any conclusions about dietary intervention for children with ADHD.


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