Wed, Aug 14, 2019 - Page 2 News List

Improved diets could help in children with ADHD

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

Research led by Academia Sinica has found that attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children can be linked to allergies, anemia and lower concentration of serotonin in blood, meaning the condition might be improved through a more nutritious diet, the head researcher said yesterday.

About 5 to 7 percent of children in Taiwan are estimated to have the disorder, the Ministry of Health and Welfare said.

Previous ADHD studies often focused on its relation to single and “irreversible” factors, such as hereditary or pregnancy problems, while the team is one of the very few to have examined its association with comorbidities, Pan Wen-harn (潘文涵), a distinguished research fellow at Academia Sinica’s Institute of Biomedical Science, told a news conference in Taipei.

As project leader, Pan brought together researchers and physicians from four universities over the past five years to compare the allergic symptoms, diet profiles, serotonin levels, blood cells, immunoglobulin E (IgE) and biochemical testing results of 216 elementary school students diagnosed with ADHD and 216 other children without the disorder, but similar in terms of age, sex, height and weight, from 31 schools in Taiwan.

Those with ADHD were found to have lower levels of serotonin, vitamins B12 and B6, folate and ferritin concentration in blood, but higher levels of IgE and eosinophil, among other abnormalities, she said.

The team also established the connection between ADHD and allergic symptoms, such as rhinitis and eczema, she said.

Parents should check if their ADHD children have allergies or anemia and help them consume more nutritional and anti-inflammatory foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and better sources of protein, Pan said.

Such children should avoid grilled, fried and sweetened foods to alleviate their allergies and ADHD symptoms, she added.

By highlighting the impact of dietary and environmental factors, she hopes to identify ways to better understand ADHD, even though her theory has been rejected by some established journals, Pan said.

The results of the team’s work were detailed in two papers published in Scientific Reports in July last year and the Journal of Clinical Medicine in May.

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