February 10, 2011

Restricted Diet for Kids with ADHD

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- A special restricted diet should be part of the standard of care for all children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), according to this study.

Previous work established ADHD might be an allergic or non-allergic hypersensitivity disorder in some children, triggered by any types of food that can cause allergic reactions. In this new study children aged 4 to 8 years previously diagnosed with ADHD took part in this randomized controlled trial, in which 50 were given the elimination diet and the other 50 (controls) given instructions for a general healthy diet for five weeks. Thereafter, diet group children reacting favorably to the restricted diet were assigned to a second phase in which two different groups of foods, one after the other, were added to the elimination diet. One food group contained foods that induced high levels of immunoglobulin G (IgG) in their blood (high IgG food), while the other group contained low IgG foods. The food groups were different for each child, based on each child's blood results. The purpose of this phase was to investigate whether IgG blood tests are useful to identify foods that trigger ADHD.

The researchers found that in the first part of the study, children in the intervention group showed significant improvements in their ADHD symptoms, as demonstrated by the ADHD rating scale. The oppositional defiant disorder symptoms, also present in half the children, also decreased.

"Our study shows comparable effect sizes in patients who are representative of the general ADHD population, supporting the implementation of a dietary intervention in the standard of care for all children with ADHD," the authors were quoted as saying. "The prescription of diets on the basis of IgG blood tests should be discouraged."

"We think that dietary intervention should be considered in all children with ADHD, provided parents are willing to follow a diagnostic restricted elimination diet for a 5-week period, and provided expert supervision is available," the authors added. "Children who react favourably to this diet should be diagnosed with food-induced ADHD and should enter a challenge procedure, to define which foods each child reacts to, and to increase the feasibility and to minimise the burden of the diet. In children who do not show behavioural improvements after following the diet, standard treatments such as drugs, behavioural treatments, or both should be considered."

SOURCE: Lancet, published online February 3, 2011