Sunday, 29 June 2008

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and attention deficit disorder (ADD) refers to a range of problems with behaviour. It is estimated that about 1.7% of the UK population, mostly children, have ADD or ADHD. Boys are more likely to be affected.

The symptoms may include attention difficulties, impulsiveness, restlessness and hyperactivity, as well as inattentiveness, and often prevent children from learning and socialising well, we have discussed some of these symptoms below.

Attention difficulties

In order for a child to be diagnosed with ADHD a child must have exhibited at least six of the following symptoms for at least six months to an extent that is unusual for their age and level of intelligence.

Fails to pay close attention to detail or makes careless errors during work or play.
Fails to finish tasks or sustain attention in play activities.
Seems not to listen to what is said to him or her.
Fails to follow through instructions or to finish homework or chores
Disorganised about tasks and activities.
Avoids tasks like homework that require sustained mental effort.
Loses things necessary for certain tasks or activities, such as pencils, books or toys.
Easily distracted.
Forgetful in the course of daily activities.


A child must have exhibited at least three of the following symptoms for at least six months to an extent that is unusual for their age and level of intelligence.
Runs around or excessively climbs over things. (In adolescents or adults only feelings of restlessness may occur.)
Unduly noisy in playing, or has difficulty in engaging in quiet leisure activities.
Leaves seat in classroom or in other situations where remaining seated is expected
Fidgets with hands or feet or squirms on seat.


At least one of the following symptoms must have persisted at least for six months to an extent that is unusual for their age and level of intelligence.
Blurts out answers before the questions have been completed.
Fails to wait in lines or wait their turn.
Interrupts or intrudes on others, e.g. butts into others conversations or games.
Talks excessively without appropriate response to social restraint.
Pervasiveness of attention difficulties and hyperactivity

For a diagnosis or description of ADHD a child would be expected to show the above difficulties in more than one setting, e.g. at school and at home. Many of these symptoms sound like traits of every normal child but when they appear together it may be a little more than just laziness, being a little different, so if you are worried speak to your child’s school and see how they behave there and if you think there is a problem speak to a medical professional

The causes of ADND are still unclear it is thought that there may be both biological and environmental factors,

Biological factors
The child's temperament, as this contributes to their attitude and personality.
Deficiency of certain nutrients in the child’s diet
Studies of twins suggest a genetic link to ADHD. In 80-90 per cent of identical twins where one has ADHD so does the other.
Recent research also suggests there is a greater chance of inheriting the condition from male relatives such as grandfathers and uncles.
Brain injuries due to birth trauma or pre-birth problems.

Environmental factors
Family stress.
Educational difficulties.


ADHD requires a medical diagnosis by a doctor, usually a child or adolescent psychiatrist, a paediatrician or paediatric neurologist or a GP. It will often be appropriate for other professionals such as psychologists, speech therapists, teachers and health visitors to contribute their observations to the assessment of a child with possible ADHD. There is no single diagnostic test for ADHD so different sorts of information needs to be gathered, it can often be a long road to getting a definite diagnosis

The treatment given to a child with ADHD will vary depending on the individual child. It can sometimes be difficult to live with or cope with a child with ADHD. Both parents and teachers can follow general guidelines to manage a child's problematic behaviour but most need specialist support and advice to ensure that each child is being given the best treatment for their particular needs. The treatments available are,

Behavioural management
Behavioural management techniques are always important as is anxiety management, cognitive therapy, individual psychotherapy and social skills training. Every child is different and therefore the therapies used are different for each child

The most common and effective medications are amphetamine-like stimulants mainly Ritalin. Ritalin reduces hyperactivity and impulsiveness and helps to focus a child's attention. They become less aggressive, seem to comply with requests, and become less forgetful. Many parents say their child's behaviour has vastly improved as a result of Ritalin. Some of our parents swear by Ritalin others say it made the situation worse, finding the right treatment is a case of trial and error and persevering until you find something that helps your child.

Research suggests that diet is not a significant factor in ADHD for most children. Some children have particular food allergies that need investigation. Dietary changes need to be supervised by a doctor and nutritionist. In this approach all foods suspected of causing behavioural problems are removed from the diet then gradually reintroduced while the child's behaviour is monitored by the psychologist.

Fish oils
Many parents have noticed an improvement in their children’s behaviour when they have introduced a fish oil supplement, some have said that it has change their child sufficiently that no other coarse of action was necessary, sounds amazing but there is little scientific evidence to back the claims, the one thing that can be said is that it can not harm them so it has got to be worth a try.

Removing the artificial sweeteners and colourings
Equally removing all the artificial additives and preservatives from a child's diet has help some children improve hugely. Many manufacturers of children’s food products are starting to catch on the the fact the artificial additives do have an adverse effect in some children and are removing them from their products. Our advice always read the label!

For more information and support try or try this forum

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Food Allergies in babies

What causes Food Allergy?

Food allergies are surprisingly rare and happen when a harmless food is wrongly interpreted by the immune system as being harmful. The symptoms of allergy (such as tingling lips, and rashes) are due to the efforts of the immune system in tackling the food. In some cases the reaction is severe, and affected individuals must avoid the problem food at all cost.

The family trait
It is just a sad fact that some families are more prone to food allergies and intolerances than others these families are categorised as a topic. This means they are more likely to develop conditions such as asthma or eczema. However, being in an atopic family doesn’t automatically mean that your baby will be affected, but it does mean that the risk of developing an allergy is greater.

The government guidelines suggest that if you have allergies in your family that you:
Breast feed for six months or longer
Wait until your baby is at least 6 months before introducing foods which commonly cause allergy (cow’s milk, eggs, wheat, nuts and shellfish)
The most common allergy in babies is milk allergy (understandably as that is all they eat)

Common symptoms of milk allergy in babies
The symptoms of cow's milk protein allergy will generally appear within the first few months of life. A baby can experience symptoms either very quickly after feeding (rapid onset) or not until 7 to 10 days after consuming the cows milk protein (slower onset).The slower-onset reaction is more common.

Symptoms of slower onset may include loose stools (possibly containing blood), vomiting, gagging, refusing food, irritability or colic, and skin rashes. This type of reaction is more difficult to diagnose because the same symptoms may occur with other health conditions. Most children will outgrow this form of allergy by 2 years of age.

Rapid-onset reactions as the name suggests come on suddenly with symptoms that can include irritability, vomiting, wheezing, swelling, hives, other itchy bumps on the skin, and bloody diarrhoea. In rare cases, a potentially severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis can occur and affect the baby's skin, stomach, breathing, and blood pressure. Anaphylaxis is more common in other food allergies than in a milk allergy. If you feel that your child has this type of allergy seek medical help immediately

Diagnosing a Milk Allergy
If you suspect that your infant is allergic to milk, call your baby's doctor. The doctor will likely ask about any family history of allergies or food intolerance and then do a physical exam. There's no single lab test to accurately diagnose a milk allergy, so your doctor might order several tests to make the diagnosis and rule out any other health problems. In addition to a stool test and a blood test, the doctor may order an allergy skin test, in which a small amount of the milk protein in inserted just under the surface of the child's skin with a needle. The doctor may also request an oral challenge test. After you stop feeding your baby milk for about a week, the doctor will have the infant consume milk, then wait for a few hours to watch for any allergic reaction.

Treating a Milk Allergy
If your baby has a milk allergy and you are breastfeeding, it's important to restrict the amount of dairy products that you ingest because the milk protein that's causing the allergic reaction can cross into your breast milk.

If you using a formula to feed your baby, your doctor may advise you to switch to a soy protein-based formula. If your baby can't tolerate soy, the doctor may have you switch to a hypoallergenic formula.

If you suspect your baby has a food intolerance or allergy, talk to your doctor straight away.

Monday, 23 June 2008


The symptoms of nasal allergies are much like cold symptoms, runny nose, watery eyes, cough, congestion, sneezing, it can be hard to tell the difference, between an allergy and a simple cold. The main indications for allergy as appose to cold are when your child is suffering from one or more of the symptoms below, to confirm your suspicions of allergy or if you are concerned its best to check it out with a G.P. Common symptoms of allergies are if:
it seem like your child always has a cold
the mucus that drains from their nose is clear and thin as opposed to yellow or greenish and thick
they sneeze a lot
their eyes are itchy, red, and watery
they have a dry persistent cough
their nose is always stuffy or running
their skin is irritated or broken out in an itchy red rash

Causes of allergies
An allergy simply an immune response to something in the environment; these substances are known as an allergen. When a child with allergies comes into contact an allergen either through touching it, breathing it, eating it, or having it injected their body views the allergen as an invader and releases histamines and other chemicals to fight it, these chemicals irritate the body and cause the symptoms that you see.

Different people can be allergic to almost anything but the most common are food, drugs, animal fur, dust mites, feathers, meld, and pollen. It depends upon the allergy as to what type of immune response will occur it can cause, respiratory symptoms, skin symptoms, like eczema, or stomach problems usually from food allergies.

How do you find out what your child is allergic too?
Trying to establish what a child is allergic can be very simple or very difficult and in some cases takes a long time or you may be lucky and find it straight away, it is important to keep tack or when reaction occur and try to establish some kind of pattern. Doing this will help your doctor to decide what tests if any are needed, the most commonly used is a skin test. The skin test can establish what a child is allergic to and then a treatment can hopefully be found.

How to help
The most important thing you can do to help your child is reduce their exposure to the allergen, once you find out what the allergen is of course.

If your child is allergic to nuts or something which has an extreme reaction like that remember to tell everyone they come into contact with, it is mind-blowing how many things contain nuts or are made in factories that produce nuts it is really hard but important to check every label and ensure that everyone else does the same before giving it to your child!.

If the allergy is feather or down it is best to have non allergenic pillows duvets and a plastic mattress protector over. If it is dust mites, they live in fabrics and carpets and are common in every room of the house, especially the child’s bed room it is advised that you try to
Buy washable quilt and pillows. Wash bedding once a week in hot water to kill dust mites, washable quilts and covers are available everywhere.
Avoid having stuffed animals in your child's room they collect dust, if there are some that they love wash them as often as you can get them out of their hands or put them in the freezer overnight, cold also kills the mites.
Dust everyday or as often as you can and vacuum everything including the mattress weekly, but make sure your child isn't in the room when you do it. The action of dusting and vacuuming can stir up residual dust-mite particles in the room. Wet dusting and buying a special hover with a hepa filters can help.
If your toddler has a severe dust mite allergy, replace the carpeting with wood and clean as often as possible but not when they are in the room as we have said.
If your child has a pollen allergy try to keep them inside on high pollen days, we know this is very hard but when they do go out once they return it helps to have a shower to remove pollen and to wash the clothes that they were wearing. You may also think about having an air purifier to help cut down the allergens in the house. Try to keep doors and windows closed, that includes in the car.

Your G.P may prescribe antihistamines for your child so it is worth visiting the doctor if the symptoms persist.

For more information go to Allergy UK at or call 01132 619898

Wednesday, 18 June 2008


What is Autism?

Autism is a complex developmental disorder that appears in the first 3 years of life, although it is sometimes diagnosed much later. It affects the brain's normal development of social and communication skills. Common features of autism include impaired social interactions, impaired verbal and nonverbal communication, problems processing information from the senses, and restricted and repetitive patterns of behaviour.

As we have said in most cases the average age for an autism diagnosis is between three and four years old. However many parents start to become concerned around 18 months old. This age coincides with some vaccinations and has caused many parents to blame the vaccinations for autism a debate we are not going to get into. However research over the last few years has indicated that many autistic children show signs of autism in their first year.

What are the symptoms?

The first thing to look out for is that your child is hitting the normal milestones of development. These millstones are listed in the toddlers section of mum’s home. The difficulty in detecting autism is that some children do develop slower than others so being a few weeks late reaching one particular milestone is nothing to worry about. When a child is late over a range of these milestones then it is best to seek medical advice.

Other symptoms to watch for in early development. Children with autism typically have difficulties in verbal and nonverbal communication, social interactions, and pretend play. In some, aggression toward others or themselves may be present. Autistic children often lack or rarely use the ’social gaze’, the process of looking at someone when giving them attention. ‘Joint Attention’, when parent and child are both giving their attention to the same object or person, is also rarer. These early signs forewarn of the two of most notable symptoms of autism, a lack of empathy for others and a tendency to withdraw into a world of their own. Some children with autism appear normal before age 1 or 2 and then suddenly "regress" and lose language or social skills they had previously gained.

One of the physical symptoms of autism is the child’s patterns of movement. Clumsiness, being uncoordinated, violent outbursts and repetitive movements are all common in autism. People with autism may perform repeated body movements, show unusual attachments to objects or have unusual distress when routines are changed. Individuals may also experience sensitivities in the senses of sight, hearing, touch, smell, or taste. Such children, for example, will refuse to wear "itchy" clothes and become unduly distressed if forced because of the sensitivity of their skin.

What causes autism?

Autism is a physical condition linked to abnormal biology and chemistry in the brain. The exact causes of these abnormalities remain unknown, but this is a very active area of research. It is thought that there are probably a combination of factors that lead to autism but there seems to be no definitive answer at the present time.

Are there test to see if my child has the disorder?

The simple ansewr is yes there are test. All children should have routine developmental exams by a medical professional. Further testing may be needed if there is concern on the part of the clinician or the parents. Babbling by 12 months
What is the treatment?

All treatments must be undertaken under medical supervision and they include;

Treatment programs - it is thought that an early, intensive, appropriate treatment program will greatly improve the outlook for most young children with autism.
Medicines are often used to treat behaviour or emotional problems that people with autism may have. These include hyperactivity, impulsiveness, attention problems, irritability, mood swings, outbursts, tantrums, aggression, extreme compulsions that the child finds it impossible to suppress, sleep difficulty, and anxiety.
Some children with autism appear to respond to a gluten free or a casein-free diet. Gluten is found in foods containing wheat, rye, and barley. Casein is found in milk, cheese, and other dairy products.

If you have worries that your child is autistic speak to a medical proffesional as soon as you can

For more information try these sites

Autism Independent UK (SFTAH)

The National Autistic Society