A report on a trial of the low additive, low salicylate diet in the treatment of behaviour and learning problems in children
by J. Breakey, M. Hill, C. Reilly and H. Connell
- Information from 500 children using diet was collected over five years in the 1980’s.
- Some improved so much they became just like children are generally.
- Some improved a useful amount but were still outside the normal range.
- One in ten benefited from using both diet and medication.
- There were no differences in the proportion of boys or girls who responded to diet.
- Information on salicylate in Australian foods was now available and was a useful guide.
- However, tolerance of foods did not follow the analysis completely e.g. apples were not tolerated.
- The level of strictness needed for concentration was greater than to improve behaviour.
- As children grow their tolerance improves, so babies and preschoolers need strict diet adherence.
- Food sensitive children are fussy eaters: sensitive to texture, thickness, smell and taste of food.
- Most are sensitive to smells, also to bright lights, certain sounds, and scratchy clothes.
- They seem to be hyper-reactive to their environment as much as being hyperactive!
- This study showed that diet factors “aggravate the underlying tendency”.
- In this study I had the help of Michael Hill, statistician, Dr Helen Connell, senior Child Psychiatrist and author, and my supervisor, Conor Reilly, Professor of Nutrition.
Published in the Australian Journal of Nutrition and Dietetics (1991) 48:3 89-94
See complete article with the Evidence Base articles.
Five hundred and sixteen children attending a metropolitan child psychiatry service trailed a low additive low salicylate (LALS) diet as part of management of behavioural and learning problems. The mean age was 7.8 years; 85% were males. A positive response was obtained in 79.5% of children, with a normal range of behaviour achieved in 54.5%. Of the 25% in whom diet was necessary but not sufficient, half also required stimulant medication. Non-responders were 9.3%, those not available to follow up were 8.7% and those not implementing the treatment 2.5%. As well almost 50% limited or excluded other foods, particularly chocolate, milk and wheat. Amongst presenting problems change occurred in behaviour, social, learning, activity, sleep and allergic problems. There was no gender effect, but an age effect was evident with the proportion of responders in the under nine group being significantly higher. If there was a family history of allergy, and where there was intolerance to any food, the likelihood of a positive outcome was higher, but outcome was not affected by a belief that food affected the child. Additives and salicylates are better thought of as aggravating the underlying predisposition in susceptible children, rather than as causative agents.