I'm been struck by the comparison between autism spectrum and ADHD. It looks like diet may be helpful in either case.

Pediatrics. 2012 Jan 9. [Epub ahead of print]

The Diet Factor in Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.

Millichap JG, Yee MM.


Division of Neurology, Children's Memorial Hospital, and Department of Pediatrics, Northwestern University Medical School, Chicago, Illinois.


This article is intended to provide a comprehensive overview of the role of dietary methods for treatment of children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) when pharmacotherapy has proven unsatisfactory or unacceptable. Results of recent research and controlled studies, based on a PubMed search, are emphasized and compared with earlier reports. The recent increase of interest in this form of therapy for ADHD, and especially in the use of omega supplements, significance of iron deficiency, and the avoidance of the "Western pattern" diet, make the discussion timely.Diets to reduce symptoms associated with ADHD include sugar-restricted, additive/preservative-free, oligoantigenic/elimination, and fatty acid supplements. Omega-3 supplement is the latest dietary treatment with positive reports of efficacy, and interest in the additive-free diet of the 1970s is occasionally revived. A provocative report draws attention to the ADHD-associated "Western-style" diet, high in fat and refined sugars, and the ADHD-free "healthy" diet, containing fiber, folate, and omega-3 fatty acids.The literature on diets and ADHD, listed by PubMed, is reviewed with emphasis on recent controlled studies. Recommendations for the use of diets are based on current opinion of published reports and our practice experience. Indications for dietary therapy include medication failure, parental or patient preference, iron deficiency, and, when appropriate, change from an ADHD-linked Western diet to an ADHD-free healthy diet. Foods associated with ADHD to be avoided and those not linked with ADHD and preferred are listed.In practice, additive-free and oligoantigenic/elimination diets are time-consuming and disruptive to the household; they are indicated only in selected patients. Iron and zinc are supplemented in patients with known deficiencies; they may also enhance the effectiveness of stimulant therapy. In patients failing to respond or with parents opposed to medication, omega-3 supplements may warrant a trial. 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.

PMID: 22232312 Ned Tijdschr Geneeskd. 2002 Dec 28;146(52):2543-7. Related Articles, Links

Comment in:

Ned Tijdschr Geneeskd. 2003 Mar 29;147(13):630-1; author reply 631.

Ned Tijdschr Geneeskd. 2003 Mar 29;147(13):630; author reply 631.

[Favourable effect of a standard elimination diet on the behavior of young children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): a pilot study]

[Article in Dutch]

Pelsser LM, Buitelaar JK.

Onderzoekscentrum voor Hyperactiviteit en ADHD, Vlokhovenseweg 11, 5625 WT Eindhoven.

OBJECTIVE: To determine whether a standard elimination diet can decrease the ADHD-symptoms in a heterogeneous group of young children with ADHD. DESIGN: Open, descriptive. METHOD: 40 children, 36 boys and 4 girls, aged 3-7 (average 4.8 years), who met the DSM-IV-criteria for ADHD, followed their usual diet for two weeks and thereafter for two weeks an elimination diet, based on the few foods diet (rice, turkey, pear and lettuce). The behaviour of the child was evaluated at study entry, after the baseline period and at the end of the diet. Parents completed the 10-item Conners list, the ADHD Rating Scale and a physical complaints list. The teachers completed the 10-item Conners list and the ADHD Rating Scale twice, at the beginning and at the end of the diet. RESULTS: According to the parent-ratings, 25 children (62%) showed an improvement in behaviour of at least 50% on both the Conners list and the ADHD Rating Scale at the end of the elimination diet. Nine children (23%) withdrew from the study because the parents were unable to stick to the diet or because the child fell ill. Among the 15 children with both parent and teacher ratings, 10 responded both at home and in school. CONCLUSION: In young children with ADHD an elimination diet can lead to a statistically significant decrease in symptoms.

PMID: 12532668 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

J Dermatol. 2004 Jun;31(6):448-54. Related Articles, Links

Psychological disturbances in Indian children with atopic eczema.

Sarkar R, Raj L, Kaur H, Basu S, Kanwar AJ, Jain RK.

Department of Dermatology & Venereology, Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector-32, Chandigarh-160031, India.

Although the link between atopic dermatitis (AD) and emotional disturbance is well known, there have been only a few studies assessing the extent of these disturbances in affected children and the problems experienced by their parents. Furthermore, these studies are mostly from western countries, where atopic dermatitis is seen in a more severe form than in India. The purpose of this study was to determine whether there is an excess of psychological disorders in Indian children with AD as compared to healthy controls and whether their mothers showed higher levels of emotional or mental distress than a comparison group. Twenty-two children, aged 3-9 years, with atopic dermatitis, twenty age and sex matched controls, and their mothers were selected for the study. The personalities of the mothers were assessed from a standard and valid questionnaire, the Hindi adaptation of Personality Trait Inventory, which explored nine areas of the maternal personality and mental distress as well as negative traits of some of these. The two groups were compared using the Chi-square test. To assess the psychopathology of the children, the mothers were made to answer parts of a valid, well-developed questionnaire, the Childhood Psychopathology Measurement Schedule, which enabled the assessment of the following factors: low intelligence with behaviour disorders, conduct disorders, anxiety, and depression. The means of each factor in both the groups were compared using the Students' t-test. Out of all the maternal personality traits, an increased number of mothers of affected children, 13 (59%) were found to be submissive as compared to the mothers of the controls i.e. 2 (10%), which was statistically significant (p<0.01). The children with AD had a higher frequency of low intelligence with behaviour disorders (5.9+/-2.9) as compared to controls and also of conduct disorders (2.1+/-1.4), which were both statistically significant (p<0.01). The results of this pilot study, although small in number, suggest that increased psychological disorders are observed in Indian children with AD as compared to controls, despite the fact that the disease is of a milder variety in this country as compared to its western counterparts. More mothers of children with AD were submissive, which could contribute to the psychological disorders and maintenance of eczema in the children. We suggest that children with AD may benefit if such psychological dimensions are considered as a part of their treatment.

PMID: 15235182 [PubMed - in process]