A restrictive elimination diet – of the kind used for children with allergies – should be part of standard care for children with ADHD, Dutch researchers argue in the journal Lancet.

ADHD, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, is considered the most common developmental age disorder; it is more common in boys. According to statistics, it affects 3-7 per cent of school-aged children.

Due to changes in brain function, children with ADHD have difficulty controlling their emotions and behaviour. They are very mobile, find it difficult to sit in one place and focus their attention on the activity at hand – they are often initially considered to be naughty children.

In earlier studies, researchers observed that ADHD in some children may have an allergic basis, and symptoms may occur as a result of eating those foods that are allergenic.

In their new study, the authors studied children aged four to eight with ADHD. For five weeks, 50 of them were on a so-called elimination diet used as standard for children with allergies, while the other 50 were fed the usual healthy diet. The researchers found significant improvements in health and behaviour in the children fed the non-allergenic food.

The children on the elimination diet were then selected from those whose elimination diet resulted in the most apparent alleviation of ADHD symptoms and were divided into two groups. The children in one group ate what was on the elimination diet (non-allergenic foods) and, in addition, foods after which the levels of type G antibodies (IgG) in their blood increased (which exacerbated ADHD symptoms); and the children in the other group ate foods after which IgG levels remained low, thus alleviating ADHD symptoms.

Based on this, the researchers concluded that measuring antibody levels in the blood of children with ADHD can serve as a diagnostic tool when selecting the right diet for the patient.

According to the authors of the study, parents of all children with ADHD should try to introduce an elimination diet for about five weeks and, if they observe improvement with the help of specialists, determine which products cause the allergic reaction manifesting as ADHD symptoms. Children who are not sensitive to the diet should be further treated according to standard guidelines – pharmacological and occupational therapy.

Nevertheless, specialists emphasise that children need to be under medical care during an elimination diet – so that the reduction in food variety does not have a negative impact on their overall health. (PAP)


  • https://www.medonet.pl/zdrowie/wiadomosci,naukowcy–dieta-pomocna-w-leczeniu-dzieci-chorych-na-adhd,artykul,1637446.html