Children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder should be put on a restricted diet, researchers have claimed.
Scientists have recommended that eliminating certain foods from a child’s diet should become a standard treatment for the condition, following a study which suggests that it may lessen the extent of the symptoms.
Previous studies have indicated a link between food allergies and ADHD, which causes children to be overactive, impulsive and inattentive.
The latest study involved 50 children aged four to eight with ADHD being given a special diet, eliminating certain foods.
Meanwhile, another 50 children of the same age who also had the condition were put on a general healthy diet.
Blood tests were then used to show immune responses to 270 different foods, allowing researchers to further alter the diets.
Children put on the “elimination” diet showed significant improvements in their ADHD symptoms, the researchers reported in The Lancet medical journal.
The authors, led by Professor Jan Buitelaar from Radboud University in the Netherlands, wrote: “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.
“Children who react favourably to this diet should be diagnosed with food-induced ADHD and should enter a challenge procedure, to define which foods each child reacts to, and to increase the feasibility and to minimise the burden of the diet.”
Drugs or behavioural treatments should be considered for children who do not respond to a dietary approach, said the researchers.