Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD affects about five percents of all children in the USA. It is not considered a disease, but a behavioral disorder. But, for the children suffering from this puzzling ailment, it means very difficult childhood. Learning disabilities, inability to focus, sleeping problems, hyperactivity and depression often combine to make life very difficult not only for the child, but for the parents and teachers as well. While the exact causes of the ADD are not know, the latest study published in the Lancet shows very interesting and promising link between the sensitivity to certain foods and the onset of ADD.
Diet and ADD
While scientists warn not to misinterpret the findings and go on the fad diet rampage in order to get rid the child of ADD, it is difficult not to get excited. This fairly small study of about 100 children aged from 1 to 8 shows almost 95 percents improvement in child”s condition if particular food child is sensitive to is eliminated from his or her diet. Normally, ADD is treated with antidepressants or stimulants, together with the behavioral therapy. Some medications are found to have serious potential side effects. What is particularly disturbing is that the child has to take drugs throughout his or her life.
Another interesting study published recently has potential bearing on the treatment of the ADD. Scientists did very detailed CT scans of the brains of about 35 children with confirmed diagnoses of ADD and 27 healthy children. They found no difference in their brains, what eliminated one possible cause for the ADD that was long considered as the most likely cause, together with genetics.
ADD in adults
For a long time, children with ADD were just considered naughty and difficult, and were being punished, not treated. Interestingly, if a child goes undiagnosed, about half of them grow up with the symptoms of ADD that are very difficult to attribute to the disease. Depression, substance abuse, together with typical lack of attention and focus are almost impossible to diagnose as ADD if the person was not diagnosed as a child. As a consequence, the person is not treated for the real underlying cause of all other problems. If the link between food sensitivity and ADD is confirmed in larger studies, it might mean huge difference in the quality of life of large number of adults as well.
We compared the measurements of CTs in two groups of children: 35 satisfying DSM III criteria for attention deficit disorder (ADD) and 27 controls with other conditions. The groups were comparable in age, sex, and IQ. Measurements of the anterior horns of the lateral ventricles, bifrontal width, and right and left hemispheres did not differ. The ratio of ventricular size/bifrontal brain width (Evan’s Index) averaged 0.237 in ADD and 0.263 in controls-results similar to those obtained in normal children by other investigators. Our findings suggest that when quantitative techniques, contrast populations, and “blind” analysis of CTs are employed, the results are indistinguishable in children with ADD and contrasts. If anatomic abnormalities are present in ADD, they are not discernible with current CT technology.