Thursday, March 31, 2011

You're Not Alone!

This week's guest blogger is Barbara Hawkins.

At last someone understands.

There is nothing quite like a CHADD conference! My first one was years ago, and I will never forget the sense that, at last, some one understands.

It is hard to describe how much it means to find people who really do understand what it means to be a parent to a child with ADHD, a child whose behavior you do not understand, a child whose behavior you sometimes cannot control. It is not easy to describe the relief you feel knowing that you are not alone. It is not you. It’s the ADHD and CHADD can help.

Many of us have children who do not have ADHD, and we do not understand why the next child does not react the same way to our parenting techniques. I know it is hard and I know that CHADD can help. Support and understanding cannot be understated. Techniques to deal with ADHD issues are invaluable. Join us on Long Island on May 14 for valuable tips and understanding.

Barbara Hawkins

Barbara Hawkins, president-elect of CHADD, is the former coordinator of CHADD of Greater Baltimore and a recipient of the CHADD Volunteer of the Year Award. Hawkins is assistant dean of Villa Julie College in Stevenson, Maryland, and chair of the Children’s Mental Health Conference in Baltimore.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Elimination Diets for ADHD Not Ready for Primetime

The news has been full of reports of the INCA study, including the following conclusion on National Public Radio from the lead author, Lidy Pelsser, MSc: “64 percent of children diagnosed with ADHD are actually experiencing a hypersensitivity to food.” CHADD experts have looked at the study published in The Lancet. Without a great deal more research that supports the findings of this study, we would urge people to slow down and not jump to trying an elimination diet.

The families in the study were either put on a rigorous and closely supervised elimination diet or assigned to a control group that received instructions for a healthy diet. An alternative explanation for the results could easily be that the children in the experimental group responded well to a highly structured environment and lots of attention—both necessary for an elimination diet—and not the diet itself. Another explanation is the all-powerful placebo effect.

While this was a randomized study, the participants all knew which group they were in. This lack of blind experimental and control groups is a major research design flaw. The placebo effect is usually controlled by making sure all participants are blind to the intervention they are receiving. For instance, an experimental group might get the elimination diet and the control group might get a bogus elimination diet which eliminates only foods unlikely to make a difference. Then the children in both groups would receive the same amounts of structure and adult involvement. That did not happen in this study. Conclusions about hypersensitivity to food and ADHD cannot be made on the face of this single study, and certainly not when the groups were aware of the interventions.

Years of research on diet and ADHD have concluded that a very small percentage of children with ADHD who also have food hypersensitivities may do well with a controlled diet. So if you know or suspect your child has food hypersensitivities, then you may want to try an elimination diet with good medical supervision. But for the vast majority of people with ADHD, there is not yet evidence that this will make a difference.

Ruth Hughes, PhD