Due to a recent study, parents in Omaha and across the country might consider the possibility of ADHD, regardless of a family history. A link has been found between food, medication, and the development of ADHD.
Stay with me now, because this get's a bit confusing for a minute.
Ok, so back in 1999, doctors released the results of an ADHD study. Recently, they completed a second study to follow up. Another study was also conducted using MRI scans.
In the first study, 600 children were assigned to four different groups. These were: medication alone, behavioral treatment alone, a combination of both, and regular community-based care, i.e. family doctor. The doctors were measuring improvements in "social skills" based on treatment type.
The study found that children who received medication had slowed physical growth. "Children who received intensive medication treatment (seven days a week) grew 4.25 cm on average and gained 1.64 kg on average, while the children who received behavior therapy only (no medication) grew 6.19 cm on average and gained 4.53 kg on average."
The study also found that 4% of the children had reactions so severe they had to be taken off the medication. (Effects included loss of appetite, sleep disturbance, crying spells, and "repetitive movements".)
Ultimately, while the researchers stated the medications were beneficial, they also said "some children did very well in each of the treatment groups" and that "behavioral therapies are very effective in treating children with ADHD." Additionally, they said, community-based care, does not provide patients with the same level of attention in terms of dosing and monitoring. (Researchers also consulted monthly with each child's teacher and generally prescribed higher doses of stimulant medications per day compared to community health providers.)
Still with me? Ok. So, then there was another study by Dr. Phillip Shaw from the National Institute of Health. This time, they ran periodic MRI's on the brains of 446 children diagnosed with ADHD. They were comparing thickness of tissue in various areas of the brain. The doctors found differences in the brains of children with ADHD compared to other children. The findings showed that these children were three years behind in brain development. (In regards to the middle of the prefrontal cortex, one of the last areas to mature, it was shown to be five years behind in those with the disorder. This area controls thinking, attention, and planning.)
Further, the motor cortex matured faster in children with ADHD, while the frontal and temporal cortices matured late. According to this study, it was this "mismatch" that likely caused the restlessness and fidgeting associated with ADHD.
Further, studies of twins suggest "development of such late-maturing areas is less influenced by heredity than areas that mature earlier." This would suggest that ADHD would not necessarily be a genetic run-in-your-family type of disorder. It may potentially have an alternative cause. Hmmmmm…
Now, here is where it all comes together. Since 80% of the children receiving MRI's were on ADHD medications, it would be pretty logical that the slowed brain development, just like the slowed physical development, is a result of being on ADHD medication. Further, Professor William Pelham from the University of Buffalo, speaking of the results of the first study, stated "I think we exaggerated the beneficial impact of medication in the first study." Concerning the follow-up study, he remarked, "We had thought that children medicated longer would have better outcomes. That did not happen to be the case." The doctors conducting the MRI study stated, "The findings support the theory that ADHD results from a delay in cortex maturation."
Therefore, we now have the medication being the cause of the condition rather than a treatment. So, what could have caused the initial "symptoms" that led to the misdiagnosis as ADHD?
According to more than a few sources, food additives are the problem. Britain has requested its food manufacturers remove additives. Some of the suspected problem-causing additives include sodium benzoate and red and yellow dyes, according to Dr. Huxsahl of the Mayo Clinic. We had previously heard that red dye was a problem. In this instance, its red #40 and yellow dyes, such as yellow #5, #6, and #10 that are suspected; and the effects are hyperactive behavior. Effects can manifest within an hour.
So, here is a likely scenario. Your child has a continuous supply of food additives and is behaving in a hyperactive manner. The doctor prescribes ADHD medication. This causes portions of your child's brain to grow at different rates. The child now has developed ADHD.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not suggesting this is the sole cause of ADHD. I'm not even suggesting you avoid ADHD medication. I am simply passing on information to allow parents to make informed choices while consulting with their physician, because after all, it is ultimately a parent's choice. In addition to the slowed development and other possible side effects, there is also the food additive issue one may want to consider.
Dr. Huxsahl's explanation of the food additive issue is rather amusing. According to Huxsahl, there is no evidence that food additives cause ADHD, but studies show certain dyes and preservatives increase hyperactivity, but it isn't clear which additives might affect behavior, but here is a list of the foods that might cause hyperactive behavior. He then goes on to tell us that it might not be healthy to eliminate foods with these additives. Okie Dokie! Wait, because next he lists foods to eliminate and foods to include! Dr. Huxsahl says we should avoid sugary and processed foods and choose instead fruits, vegetables, grains, and healthy fats (i.e., omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, flaxseed, etc.). Doesn't sound unhealthy to me. Sounds like some tap-dancing around, like maybe no one wants to come right out and say this is possible. Well, I said it!
http://www.nimh.nih.gov/trials/practical/mta/the-multimodal-treatment-of... http://www.nimh.nih.gov/science-news/2004/imaging-study-shows-brain-matu... http://www.nih.gov/news/pr/nov2007/nimh-12.htm