Nobody really expects august news organizations such as the BBC to do joined-up thinking. If they did, you wouldn’t need us, dear reader.
But the BBC’s own website surpassed itself this week when it announced the approval of atomoxetine. Right underneath the story was one headlined: ‘Chemicals affect child brains’.
It features the announcement from the World Wildlife Fund that substances in TVs, computers and car seats can affect children’s memories and IQ levels. There are over 70,000 man-made chemicals currently on the market, and researchers have reckoned that 10 per cent of all neurobehavioural disorders are caused by toxic exposures.
The major culprits are flame-retardants known as Deca brominated diphenyl ether and the PolyChlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs).
ADHD is a convenient blanket term for a wide range of disturbed behaviour in children, ranging from the friendly neighbourhood kid who wants to set your house on fire to the child who can’t sit still for more than a few minutes.
So terms such as ‘neurobehavioural disorders’, ‘memory’ and ‘IQ level’ all fit neatly into the ADHD basket, but then there’s room for every other form of difficult behaviour too. So the link between toxins and ADHD is pretty easy to establish, and has been for years.
But other links have also been proven, and also for many years. Back in 1985 doctors at Great Ormond Street hospital discovered that all their ADHD children were intolerant or allergic to at least one food group, with the usual suspects including wheat, dairy, chocolate and oranges. Their findings fit in with the work of Dr Benjamin Feingold who made the link with certain foods in 1975. He was able to successfully treat thousands of children with hyperactivity (as it was then called) just by eliminating those foods.
Then there are the food additives. Again, Dr Feingold also made a link with food colourings and those preservatives that had been derived from coal tar. In 2002, the Food Standards Agency discovered that the behaviour of children worsened dramatically after they had one of the many luridly coloured drinks that are laced with additives.
Finally, most nutritionists have noted that ADHD children are lacking in zinc and magnesium.
So there’s plenty we can do for our ADHD children. But, heck, we don’t want to be party-poopers and stand in the way of a drug company and its profits.