Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is characterized by inattention, impulsivity and, in many cases, hyperactivity. ADHD affects up to 7% school age children. Problems with focus, concentration and impulsivity affect all levels of both academic and interpersonal function. Secondary problems include low self-esteem, anxiety and problems related to impulsive, hyperactive behavior.
Psychostimulants have been well documented to improve attention span, but not without risk of adverse effects, including loss of appetite, headache, stomachache, and mood changes. There is a growing concern about what appears to be an increasing prescriptive use of controlled substances in children.
Since 1990, prescriptions for methylphenidate have increased by 500%, while prescriptions for amphetamines have increased 400%. According to Gene R. Haislip, Deputy Assistant Administrator, Drug Enforcement Administration, "There is a legitimate place for these drugs, but we have become the only country in the world where children are prescribed a vast quantity of stimulants that share virtually the same properties as cocaine. We must find a better balance".
In 1998, a small pilot study was conducted by Dykman and Dykman to document the effects of glyconutritional supplements in children with ADHD. During the first two weeks of the study, in children taking glyconutritionals, a decrease was noted in severity of symptoms associated with ADHD. (Integrative Physiological & Behavioral Science; Jan-Mar 1998:33(1): 49-61.)
Last year, this writer and a team of professionals, with the support of Fisher Institute for Medical Research,(Fisher Proceedings, Vol 4, No.2) studied the effects of glyconutritionals in children diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. 20 children between ages 5-18 were studied, with most children prescribed stimulants at the onset of the study. The children were administered glyconutritionals for 40 weeks from the onset of the study.
11 children completed the 40 week study. 2 of 11 children experienced improvement by week 4. This improvement was sustained for the duration of the study. Considerable improvement was noted in 5 children by week 8 and in 2 children by week 12. One child experienced transient progress by week 16, one other child did not appear to exhibit any changes for the duration of the study.
Side effects diminished considerably. A mean side effect score dropped from 18.75 to 0 by week 40.
A second control group was studied; 13 children were monitored without supplements for 12 weeks and then started glyconutritional supplements.
Of the 13 children in the control group, 7 exhibited considerable improvement shortly after administration of glyconutritional supplementation. The progress was sustained for the duration of the study 16 weeks later.
These results suggest glyconutritional supplements may help children by reduction of symptoms of ADHD. Glyconutritionals may also play a role in reducing side effects and improving tolerability to medications. Clearly, more formal, and larger studies are needed.