LIVING WITH CHILDREN: Chewing over the facts of food and behavior of children | Lifestyles

A headache does not mean one has a brain tumor, but some brain tumors do cause headaches.

Likewise, ADHD behaviors do not mean one has a food allergy, albeit some food allergies cause, in some children, behaviors that are on the official list of ADHD symptoms. (Mind you, I believe ADHD is one of many bogus psychological diagnoses, but that is subject for another column.)

I take requests, the latest of which comes from a parent who wants me to encourage everyone with a child who is impulsive, lacks concentration skills and exhibits other ADHD symptoms to see an allergist, preferably one who specializes in allergies to foods of various sorts. I also turn down certain requests, as I will do with this one.

Several months ago, someone pointed out to me that no credible, peer-reviewed study has ever confirmed the ADHD-food allergy connection. Well, that’s not exactly true. Research reports averages. Research does not report on individual cases. So, for example, if 1,000 children are included in a study that purports to determine whether or not food allergies cause ADHD behavior and 10 children (1%) are reactive but 990 are not, the study’s authors report that their research failed to find a connection. Not so. It found a connection in 1 out of 100 cases. What is reported and what actually happened are two different things.

Are some children allergic to certain foods? Yes. Do certain food allergies manifest behaviorally? I believe so, but don’t expect to find a peer-reviewed study that confirms that. If you do, it will be an anomaly. Nonetheless, over the course of my career, I’ve heard hundreds of reports from parents who credibly claim that when they eliminated junk from their children’s diets, ADHD behaviors disappeared or abated considerably.