The New York Times reported on Sunday, March 31st, that the rate of A.D.H.D. diagnosis in this country has risen rather scarily, a 16% increase since 2007 and a 41% rise in the last ten years. Rates in other industrialized countries around the world are far lower than ours, with the CDC now estimating that 11% of American children are affected.
The article focuses on whether or not the condition is being over-diagnosed, which is probably a pretty good guess since the testing is very subjective. But what has not been explored in this article is what else might be causing so many children to even be tested in the first place. Along the spectrum of A.D.H.D. there are a wide variety of symptoms, some very pronounced, others less so. Why such a sudden and marked increase in these symptoms?
Certainly, one could point a finger at our system of education that seems to require conformity and drudgery to operate in its current format. That would be enough right there to turn off a huge population of students, make them fidget in their seats, find schoolwork boring and unimaginative, have difficulty focusing. We are more likely to teach students how to take tests than how to learn in a joyous and novel way.
But the other oft-overlooked factors in this sudden rise of A.D.H.D.-like symptoms are food and environment. Dr. Doris Rapp long ago wrote the book, “Is This Your Child?” The over-600 page volume draws on Dr. Rapp’s expertise as a pediatric allergist and environmental medical specialist. Her book has been widely read over the last 2 decades by many a parent wondering about their child’s extremes of behavior and mood, and unexplained physical symptoms like rashes and dark circles around their children’s eyes. The answer simply is allergies. Allergies to foods, to chemicals used in processed foods, to environmental toxins. When you remove the offending toxicities, a good many symptoms can disappear.
A reviewer of Dr. Rapp’s book on Amazon says the following of trying a simple elimination diet with her son: “I did the elimination diet with dairy and his symptoms all disappeared within 48 hours! My pediatrician and the pediatric allergist we visited did not believe in these allergies despite my showing them this book…” Therein lies a big part of the problem. Too many doctors don’t “believe” in allergies and all the symptoms they generate. But they are very willing to believe in A.D.H.D. as a condition and very willing to dispense medications (ALL medications have side-effects) to children without ever exploring other ideas that might mitigate symptoms and actually cure the affliction.
My own personal experience verifies what the reviewer describes: an ignorant pediatrician who could offer nothing more for my child’s terrible unexplained rashes than cortisone cream. A naturopath suggested removing dairy from her diet for a couple of weeks to see if that had any effect. Within a couple of days, the rash, which had persisted for years, disappeared. Further blood testing showed that she was severely sensitive to dairy and wheat. Removing the offending foods, in addition to cutting back sugar drastically and food colorings and additives, brought an amazing array of positive results.
Diagnosing A.D.H.D. in a child brings with it all kinds of stigmas that follow the child throughout school and into adulthood. Certainly, there may be some extreme cases of A.D.H.D. where medication could be the best answer. But I would implore all doctors who work in the field to educate themselves about the excellent results that can be realized with food modification and possible supplementation of certain minerals and nutrients before handing out that prescription.
All of this leaves one to wonder whether drug companies are actually becoming the drug pushers of a generation, with medical doctors in their pockets. Who really is responsible for drug policy in our country? Follow the money trail.