Can Food Chemicals Cause ADHD in Children?

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CLEVELAND, Ohio – It’s a diagnosis that can impact a parent as much as the child, but what’s the right way to treat ADHD?

“I like to play games and have races and run,” said Ezekiel Shaw, 7.  He’s a first-grader from Cleveland who receives prescription drug therapy to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD.  He was diagnosed after his impulsive behavior started worrying his teachers.

“A lot of destructive behaviors, tearing-up the carpet, breaking things off,” said his mom, Tiffany Rossman.  “Things that he didn't do at home but in school he couldn't sit still when it was required of him to sit still for long periods of time.”

She eventually sought treatment from Dr. Mark Feingold at MetroHealth Medical Center.  “Can't sit still, squirming, running around excessively - all kids do that, but these kids do it way beyond what their brothers, sisters and playmates do,” said Dr. Feingold.  “Our standard approach is to make a good diagnosis, an accurate diagnosis, then to prescribe stimulant medication and add-in counseling, as necessary.”

According to Dr. Feingold, children with ADHD have a disconnect in part of the brain that helps them pay attention and organize their life. Which is why everything can seem out of control.  “I didn't want to believe it, I had a lot of pride about my parenting and he was a good boy. I wasn't going to believe that he had a behavior problem until I saw it for myself,” said Ezekiel’s mom, Tiffany.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that approximately 9.5%, or 5.4 million kids between ages 4 and 17 have been diagnosed with ADHD.  That number increased 22% between 2003 and 2007.  “I don’t know if it’s actually increased in an absolute way or we're just detecting it more,” said Dr. Feingold.

According to the doctor, children used to play more and burn-off energy.  Today, many kids spend hours in front of the television, which can be a stimulant.

Dr. Robert DeMaria, known as Dr. Bob, is a chiropractor from Elyria who blames the increase in ADHD cases on what children are eating.  “See, the whole world is so much toxic today, they don't know where to go. People are tired of taking medicine,” said Dr. Bob, who’s written several books, including Dr. Bob’s Guide to Stop ADHD in 18 Days.

“Do you know why kids hate vegetables?  Because they're exposed to so many chemicals today that are enhancing their taste buds, that the average child today - I'm not even sure if they taste real food anymore because everything they eat has so many chemicals in it, their tongues are being tricked,” said Dr. Bob, who believes the chemicals interact negatively with a the brain of a child.

He advocates healthy eating with whole grains and organic foods to manage symptoms of ADHD.  “There are five-million children that have been officially diagnosed with ADHD.  ADHD kids become ADHD adults unless they make some kind of huge lifestyle change along the way,” said Dr. Bob.

Dr. Mark Feingold, from Metro, disagrees.  “I think anybody who's promising and easy cure in three-weeks is probably promising the moon.”  According to Dr. Feingold, kids often outgrow the symptoms but parents have to work closely with their doctor while undergoing drug therapy, for which the long-term effects are still unknown.

Tiffany has no regrets about her choice and believes the treatment has worked for her son.  “I received his progress report and everything was outstanding, I actually called the school and thought it was a computer error,” said Tiffany.  “I was in shock.”

According to the CDC, a child with ADHD might:

  • have a hard time paying attention
  • daydream a lot
  • not seem to listen
  • be easily distracted from schoolwork or play
  • forget things
  • be in constant motion or unable to stay seated
  • squirm or fidget
  • talk too much
  • not be able to play quietly
  • act and speak without thinking
  • have trouble taking turns
  • interrupt others

 

For more information on MetroHealth Medical Center, visit: www.metrohealth.org.

Dr. Robert DeMaria can be found online at: www.druglessdoctor.com.

For information from the CDC, visit: www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/adhd/index.html.

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