ADHD: What Every Parent Should Know to Help Their Child
by Dr. Frank Lanzisera
The numbers keep climbing in the number of children affected by one of the most common neurobehavioral disorders, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The average percentage of children with ADHD has steadily risen from 7.8% in 2003 to 9.5% in 2007 and continues to rise.
On November 13, 2013, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released the statistics from a 2011 survey of children 4-17 years of age. This data shows that approximately 11% ( 6.4 million) of children have been diagnosed with ADHD. In some states this number is even greater with more than 13.1% of children with this diagnosis. Rates of diagnosis have risen as well with an average increase of 3% per year from 1997 to 2006 to 5% per year during the 2003-2011 period.
The symptoms od ADHD are described as the inability to pay attention and stay focused, difficulty controlling behavior, and hyperactivity. These symptoms can extend beyond the childhood years into adulthood.
The causes of ADHD have not been clearly established. There is, however, an increasing concern involving an environmental toxin, polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs). PBDEs are chemical compounds utilized as flame retardants used in building materials, upholstered furniture, pillows, plastics, electronics, mattresses - particularly those items manufactured before 2005 when the Stockholm Convention restricted the industrial production of some PBDEs.
One worrisome aspect of PBDEs is that they bioaccumulate in our bodies, particularly in the blood, beast milk, and fat tissues. A U. S. study, conducted by the Environmental Working Group, showed that the median blood levels of PBDEs in children (62 parts per billion) were 3.2 times higher than their mothers. What makes this especially alarming is that this study involved American mothers and previous studies showed the presence of PBDEs in breast milk of American mothers was already 75 times higher than European mothers. This would indicate that American children are subjected to substantially high PBDEs levels. In fact, California children's exposures to PBDEs are among the highest worldwide.
A study, conducted by the Center for Environmental Research and Children's Health at the University of California at Berkeley, concluded that "Both prenatal and childhood PBDE exposures were associated with poorer attention, fine motor coordination, and cognition in the CHAMACOS cohort of school-age children. This study, the largest to date, contributes to growing evidence suggesting that PBDEs have adverse impacts on child neurobehavioral development.".
For now, two of the most effective and non-drug therapies for ADHD are metabolic (nutritional) assessment with diet modifications and neurofeedback brain mapping and training.
In the Journal of Clinical EEG & Neuroscience, July, 2009, a study found that "... neurofeedback treatment for ADHD can be considered "Efficacious and Specific (Level 5 ) with a large ES for inattention and impulsivity and a medium ES for hyperactivity."
Interestingly, a Feb. 5, 2011 article published in the highly regarded Lancet Journal reported that 64% of ADHD cases were actually caused by a hypersensitivity to certain foods. The study went on to show that when those foods were identified and removed from the participants' diet, symptoms improved. The lead author, Dr. Lidy Pelsser stated that "We have got good news - that food is the main cause of ADHD. We've got bad news - that we have to train physicians to monitor this [food sensitivity identification and diet modification] procedure because it cannot be done by a physician who is not trained."
At Lanzisera Center we focus on helping those with ADHD, ADD, and Autism and their families by utilizing the therapies described above. Neurofeedback training combined with metabolic (nutritional) assessment and dietary improvements are part of our functional medicine approach for this widespread disorder. To learn more, call (813) 253-2333 or go online http://www.clearmindtampabay.com