THURSDAY, Feb. 3 (HealthDay News) -- A special restrictive diet may significantly reduce symptoms of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in young children, a new study suggests.
When children between the ages of 4 and 8 were placed on a diet containing no processed foods for five weeks, ADHD symptoms diminished in 78 percent of them. And, when suspected trouble foods were reintroduced into the diet, two-thirds of the children experienced a relapse in symptoms.
"A strictly supervised restricted elimination diet is a valuable instrument to assess whether ADHD is induced by food," wrote the study authors. "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 five-week period, and provided expert supervision is available," they concluded.
Results of the study are published in the Feb. 5 issue of The Lancet.
ADHD is a common childhood disorder, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Children with ADHD have trouble paying attention, focusing and can be hyperactive. Parents have long suspected that sugary foods might be a culprit in inducing symptoms, but there's not a lot of evidence to support this theory, according to the NIMH. However, food additives and preservatives have recently been singled out as possibly having an effect on children's behavior, though the evidence isn't yet conclusive.
Since some children have negative physical reactions to certain foods -- such as eczema, asthma and gastrointestinal problems -- that affect different organ systems, it has been suggested that foods may also affect the brain in a way that results in adverse behavior, according to information in the study.
To test this theory, the researchers recruited 100 children from Belgium and the Netherlands. The children were betw
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