Does your AD/HD child have allergies? The subject of allergies and Attention Deficit Disorder has been on my mind lately, probably because it’s September. My kids and I all suffer from seasonal allergies, mostly to pollen and mold, and September usually marks the beginning of our woes. We sniffle and sneeze and have sore throats until the first good snowfall, usually in January.
The subject came up, I think, in one of my newsletters when I was discussing AD/HD and co-morbidities. A person who is born with a disability (and yes, much as I hate to say it, AD/HD is considered a disability) is almost always born with more than one. I was told that disabilities never occur singly, but in groups of two or more. Typical co-morbidities for AD/HD include learning disabilities, depression, and asthma.
Depression, learning disabilities, and things of that nature are easier to understand in terms of being linked with Attention Deficit Disorder because they are brain based. Asthma, however, was a bit of a surprise. There have been some studies done recently, most notably at the University of Virgina, that are exploring the link between AD/HD and asthma.
My kids don’t have asthma, but it led me to thinking about allergies and whether there was a connection to AD/HD. There hasn’t been a definitive link between the two, as far as I can tell. There have been studies done on food allergies and AD/HD which state that there is no connection, but there is also evidence that many of these studies were either flawed in their design or had questionable backers (aka food companies).
I know that if you have a group of ADD moms in the room, you’re likely to find a few that say they notice a difference in their child when they consume certain foods. Sugar has long been thought to be a culprit, as well as certain food dyes.
The fact that food can trigger AD/HD symptoms, or cause symptoms which mimic AD/HD shouldn’t be so hard to accept. We use herbal teas for their calming affects on our brains and we turn to caffeine for the opposite. My mom knew better than to eat aged cheese or chocolate because she knew it would trigger a migraine.
But what about seasonal, respiratory allergies like what my kids and I have? Are they related to AD/HD at all? Well, it turns out they may be. A study done at Long Island College Hospital in New York City found that a high percentage of the children they tested (who all had AD/HD) also had allergies of some kind. The study used an exceptionally small sample (20 children) which is far from definitive, but the findings were consistent with other studies that have been done.
The conclusion of the study was that seasonal allergies make the symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder worse. The doctors concluded that stuffy noses, coughing, and other allergic symptoms affect the quality of sleep a person gets, and that in turn affects AD/HD symptoms.
If you’re interested in learning more about this subject, I highly recommend a book by Dr. Doris Rapp called “Is This Your Child?”. I referred to it often when my kids were younger.