Do food or additives cause behavior disorders?

Pediatr Ann. 2006 Oct;35(10):744-5, 748-54.

Do food or additives cause behavior disorders?

Cruz NV, Bahna SL.

Section of Allergy and Immunology, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, Shreveport, LA, USA.


The possible role of foods or additives in causing behavioral disorders in children, particularly ADHD, has been a controversial subject both among health care providers and the public. However, a critical review of the literature provides very limited support for such a relationship. On encountering such cases, the healthcare professional should first establish an accurate diagnosis of the suspected “abnormal” behavior based on specific standard criteria. It is important to counsel the family regarding the standard of care practice and about the limited evidence of a role of foods and additives in causing behavior problems. If parents strongly suspect a specific dietary item, a trial of elimination may be warranted. If the child’s behavior shows definite improvement, a challenge in a double-blind, placebo-controlled fashion under the supervision of an experienced physician would be necessary to verify the relationship.

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