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Food coloring and ADHD: No known link, but wider safety issues remain, researcher says

Date:
June 14, 2011
Source:
University of Maryland
Summary:
When University of Maryland psychologist Andrea Chronis-Tuscano testified at an FDA hearing, it changed her mind about the risks of artificial food coloring for children, and drove her to reconsider what she feeds her kids. Chronis-Tuscano walked into the meeting certain that NO convincing scientific evidence supports the idea that these additives cause ADHD. While testimony from other experts did NOT shake that assessment, it did raise concerns about the overall safety for children.

When University of Maryland psychologist Andrea Chronis-Tuscano testified before a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hearing last March, it changed her mind about possible risks of artificial food coloring for children, and drove her to look more closely at the products in her own pantry that she feeds her kids.

Chronis-Tuscano walked in to the meeting certain that NO convincing scientific evidence supports the idea that food coloring additives cause Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD -- nor that strict diets eliminating dyes effectively treat the condition.

While the testimony from other experts did NOT shake that assessment, it did raise concerns for her about the lack of research on the overall safety of food dyes for children.

"The testimony I heard presents significant questions for me -- issues that have not been adequately studied by scientists," says Chronis-Tuscano, a mother of young children, an associate professor of psychology and director of the University of Maryland ADHD Program.

"Beginning in the womb, developing brains are particularly sensitive to toxins," Chrois-Tuscano explains. "It's important to get better information about how much of these substances American children consume, and whether these levels are dangerous.

"Given the lack of hard evidence, I am not convinced that food coloring additives are dangerous, but I am also not convinced that they are not. It is certainly possible that some small subset of children have a unique sensitivity to these substances.

"The issue shouldn't end here. We need better answers about the effects of these additives on our nation's children," she concludes.

The debate over a possible link between food additives and a range of childhood behavioral issues, such as ADHD, has persisted for decades, spurred on by parents' desire to find a remedy that does not involve powerful medications.

"This debate has itself been colored by weak science and strong emotional beliefs," Chronis-Tuscano says.

"My concern as a clinician is that the belief held by many parents that diets eliminating all food additives can cure ADHD often delays or prevents them from getting treatments for their children that are backed by strong scientific evidence -- behavior therapy, stimulant medication, or their combination. The earlier such treatment begins the better. Going down the wrong path wastes resources and, most critically, precious time in the life of a child."

A complete copy of Chronis-Tuscano's account is available at: http://newsdesk.umd.edu/vibrant/chronis_additives.cfm


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Maryland. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Maryland. "Food coloring and ADHD: No known link, but wider safety issues remain, researcher says." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 June 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110614131954.htm>.
University of Maryland. (2011, June 14). Food coloring and ADHD: No known link, but wider safety issues remain, researcher says. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110614131954.htm
University of Maryland. "Food coloring and ADHD: No known link, but wider safety issues remain, researcher says." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110614131954.htm (accessed July 24, 2014).

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