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ADHD in Children Health Center

Study: ADHD Diet Helps Reduce Symptoms

Avoiding Certain Foods May Cut Symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in Kids
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Positive Response to ADHD Diet continued...

In the ADHD diet group, 41 of 50 children finished the first phase. In that group of 41 children, 32, or 78%, responded favorably by having fewer symptoms. Overall, 32 of 50, or 64%, responded favorably.

''Not only ADHD, but also ODD symptoms, characterized by stubbornness, temper tantrums, and provocative behavior, which were present in 50% of the children, decreased significantly," Pelsser tells WebMD.

When the offending foods were reintroduced, symptoms returned in those who had responded favorably, the researcher says.

While previous studies have found a link between foods and ADHD symptoms, the researchers say the studies were typically small or only included children known to have a tendency to allergies; their study is more applicable to the population as a whole.

The restricted diets must be supervised by experts, Pelsser tells WebMD, and five weeks is enough time to determine if it will work.

If the diet works to reduce symptoms, Pelsser says, the children won't need medication. "The children responding favorably to the RED do not meet the criteria for ADHD or ODD anymore. Consequently there is no need for medication."

In a second phase of the study, the researchers looked at the theory of whether eating foods that induce high levels of immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies is linked to symptoms of ADHD, as some believe. Those who support this theory suggest blood tests to evaluate IgG levels might be useful.

After challenging the children with high-IgG and low-IgG inducing foods, the researchers found no association between IgG blood levels and behavioral effects, concluding that IgG blood tests to identify foods triggering ADHD symptoms is not advisable.

Second Opinion

The high response rate is ''very surprising" to Eugene Arnold, MD,  professor emeritus of psychiatry at Ohio State University's Nisonger Center, Columbus, who reviewed the study findings for WebMD.

Arnold says he is open to parents who want to try the ADHD diet, provided it is supervised by experts who can help the parents. "There is a risk of malnutrition if you don't pay attention to the balance of nutrients."

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