Food additives linked to ADHD in kids

May 23rd, 2008 - 5:47 pm ICT by admin  

Sydney, May 23 (IANS) Conventional medicine has hitherto dismissed the notion that artificial colours and preservatives in foods are linked to hyperactivity in children — but that link is now being taken seriously. Writing in the British medical journal BMJ, Andrew Kemp of the University of Sydney has called for removal of food additives from the diet to be part of standard initial treatment for kids with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Kemp cited a recent trial showing an increase in hyperactivity among children without ADHD who were fed a diet high in food colourings and preservatives, WebMD reported.

In February, another group of experts had cited the same study as evidence that it is time to revisit the issue.

“The overall findings of the study are clear and require that even we skeptics, who have long doubted parental claims of the effects of various foods on the behaviour of their children, admit we might have been wrong,” the experts wrote.

Kemp said that practitioners have largely ignored the clinical evidence suggesting that dietary modification improves ADHD symptoms in some children.

“Clearly it doesn’t work for everybody, but very few treatments do,” he was quoted as saying. “(Dietary modification) is certainly something that parents who want to avoid drugs could try for a month or six weeks.”

In the US, 4.7 million children have ever been diagnosed with ADHD. Medications such as Ritalin and Adderall are the most commonly prescribed treatments for hyperactivity, but family and behavioural therapy is also used.

In his editorial, Kemp has argued that there is more research suggesting a benefit for dietary modification than for behavioural therapy, yet dietary modification has been widely dismissed as an alternative treatment.

He noted that of 22 studies conducted between 1975 and 1994, 16 found dietary modification to have a positive impact on at least some children with ADHD.

“In view of the relatively harmless intervention of eliminating colourings and preservatives, and the large number of children taking drugs for hyperactivity, it might be proposed that an appropriately supervised and evaluated trial of eliminating colourings and preservatives should be part of standard treatment for children,” Kemp writes.

The 2007 study cited by Kemp included 297 British children from the general population who were either age 3 or between the ages of 8 and 9 and whose diets were closely controlled for six weeks.

During the study, the children drank either beverages with food additives or a placebo drink with no additives. Neither the children nor the researchers knew which beverage the children were getting.

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