It’s time to get back to school and the stats for children suffering with difficulty concentrating and focusing at school are alarming! The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently surveyed 73,000 children and found one in 10 has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). This is a 22% increase since 2003. Approximately 11% of children 4-17 years of age (6.4 million) have been diagnosed with ADHD as of 2011.
ADHD and Delayed Development:
Studies using brain imaging have shown that children with ADHD have a delayed brain maturation by about 3 years. The delay is most pronounced in brain regions involved in thinking, attention, focus and planning. Similar delays may also lead to sensory processing disorders and dyslexia.
ADHD and Stimulant Medication:
Individuals with ADHD are most often prescribed stimulant medications such as Ritalin, Dexedrine and Adderall. These medications increase dopamine and norepinephrine levels in the brain. These neurotransmitters are critical for goal setting, concentration and focus. Common side effects include restlessness, dizziness, insomnia, headache, dryness of the mouth, gastrointestinal complaints and weight loss. Ritalin and Adderall are classified as “Schedule II” drugs (along with cocaine) by the Drug Enforcement Agency to indicate drugs with a high potential for abuse.
ADHD and the Microbiome:
There has been a tremendous amount of research linking the gut microbiome and neurological health. Research has indicated that low levels of healthy lactobacillus and bifidobacterium are linked with increased brain exciteability and neurological inflammation.
A 2013 study evaluated 742,939 children and demonstrated that those children with ADHD had a dramatic increased prevalence of constipation almost threefold higher than those without ADHD. Fecal incontinence was six fold higher in the ADHD group, and visits to the doctor because of bowel issues was also dramatically increased in kids with ADHD.
Gut motility is a critical factor in the development and maintenance of a healthy microbiome. Children with ADHD most often have slow motility and a proliferation of microbes that secrete neurotoxic compounds such as lipopolysaccharides (LPS).
**Stay tuned! Next week we are going to cover topics such as ADHD and chemical preservatives, gluten sensitivity, and chiropractic care.***