Food Additives Linked to Hyperactivity in Children

May 26, 2008

Because food colorings and preservatives can increase hyperactive behavior in children with and without attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, pediatricians should consider recommending the elimination of these substances from the diets of some children, according to an editorial published in the May 24 issue of BMJ.

MONDAY, May 26 (HealthDay News) -- Because food colorings and preservatives can increase hyperactive behavior in children with and without attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, pediatricians should consider recommending the elimination of these substances from the diets of some children, according to an editorial published in the May 24 issue of BMJ.

Andrew Kemp, M.D., of Children's Hospital at Westmead and the University of Sydney, Australia, cited a recent randomized placebo-controlled trial in 297 children aged 3 to 9 without attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, which showed that consumption of food colorings and the preservative sodium benzoate was associated with increased hyperactive behavior.

Kemp also cited a recent report from a European Food Safety Authority panel that reviewed 22 studies from 1975 to 1994 and two meta-analyses. Of the 22 studies, 16 showed positive evidence linking preservatives and colorings with hyperactive behaviors The most recent meta-analysis found that artificial food colors had a significant effect on hyperactivity scores.

"In view of the relatively harmless intervention of eliminating colorings and preservatives, and the large numbers of children taking drugs for hyperactivity (2.4 percent of children in the state of Western Australia receive stimulant drugs for attention-deficit disorder), it might be proposed that an appropriately supervised and evaluated trial of eliminating colorings and preservatives should be part of standard treatment for individual children," the author concludes.

Editorial

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