Evidence Suggests Limited Benefit of Dietary ADHD Therapy

Supplements may be useful for select patients; education in healthy dietary patterns recommended

MONDAY, Jan. 9 (HealthDay News) -- For children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) who fail to respond to medication or whose parents are opposed to pharmacotherapy, supplements or specific dietary patterns may be useful, according to a review published online Jan. 9 in Pediatrics.

J. Gordon Millichap, M.D., and Michelle M. Yee, C.P.N.P., from the Northwestern University Medical School in Chicago, reviewed available literature to investigate the role of dietary methods as a complementary or alternative treatment for children with ADHD.

The investigators discovered that oligoantigenic/elimination and additive-free diets were indicated in selected patients but, in general, were time-consuming and disruptive to the household. For patients with known deficiencies in iron and zinc, supplements were recommended and, in some cases, found to enhance the effect of therapeutic stimulants. A trial of omega-3 supplements may be warranted for patients who fail to respond to medication or for those with parents opposed to medication.

"The evaluation of claims for therapies in a disorder such as ADHD, without a single, well-defined cause, is a scientific challenge, requiring controls and appropriate neuropsychological testing," the authors write. "A greater attention to the education of parents and children in a healthy dietary pattern, omitting items shown to predispose to ADHD, is perhaps the most promising and practical complementary or alternative treatment of ADHD."

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