DIAGNOSIS OF ADD: The proper diagnosis of ADD is key. It is critical to rule out other behavioral and learning disorders that can be confused with ADD. As well, other behavioral and psychiatric conditions, called comorbidities, can co-exist with ADD. Unfortunately, there is no specific test for ADD, and consideration should be given to having your child evaluated by a behavioral therapist, psychiatrist, or pediatrician skilled in the management of ADD.
The work up for ADD should include a serum screen for heavy metals and lead. Iron deficiency and other nutritional deficiencies are common in patients with ADD.
TREATMENT OF ADD:
There are several general areas that need attention in the approach to the child with ADD.
- Education of the family, parents, caregivers, and school personnel: Since ADD touches everyone with whom the child with ADD associates, education regarding ADD and its management should be undertaken with those involved with your child.
- Parenting strategies: ADD contributes to the stress level of families, and support groups and other outlets are available to lend support to families and parents, and to teach parenting and coping skills.
- Child interventions: This is aimed at teaching the child with ADD social skills, problem solving skills, and behavioral therapy.
- School interventions: This involves interaction with teachers to promote collaboration and education regarding ADD and your child.
Food allergies seem to be more important in patients with ADD with hyperactivity. Even then, this area carries with it some controversy. However, it may have a place in a child with ADD, and food allergy testing should be considered in a child who is not showing improvement with other treatments.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter. These are the chemicals in the brain that transmit impulses from one brain cell to another and basically control all brain functions. Studies have shown a deficiency of serotonin in patients with ADD and other learning disorders.
Tryptophan is a precursor of serotonin, and is necessary for producing normal amounts of serotonin. Dietary advice for patients with ADD is directed toward increased consumption of foods high in tryptophan. These would include: -Turkey, bananas, low-fat milk, lentils, and eggs.
ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS:
Essential fatty acids are required for the production of cell walls. They are called essential because the body can not produce them, and they must be provided through diet. Inadequate intake of foods containing essential fatty acids results in the production of cells which are deficient in structure, and, therefore, function. This is especially important in the developing brain. Essential fatty acids are found in flaxseeds and in cold water fish, which include salmon (not farm bred), herring, mackerel, and albacore tuna, which is the more expensive version of tuna. Consumption of these fish 1-2 times per week is recommended.
MULTIVITAMIN WITH IRON: All patients with ADD should be on a multiple vitamin with iron, to prevent deficiencies of vitamins and minerals required for proper brain function.
5 HYDROXYTRYPTOPHAN, OR 5 HT:
5 HT is involved in the production of serotonin through tryptophan. If dietary sources of tryptophan are not adequate, a supplement with 5HT should be considered.
FISH OIL, FLAX SEED OIL:
Fish oil and flaxseed oil contain essential fatty acids. Supplementation should be considered if dietary sources of essential fatty acids are not adequate.