Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Claims Without Science; Promoting Good Health

My local community publishes a glossy bi-monthly magazine featuring local volunteer leaders who contribute to the quality of community life and showcasing local businesses. A chiropractor recently featured his business showcase column on AD/HD.

He started the column with the claim that between the 1990s and today, children with AD/HD treated by medication rose from 900,000 to "more than 5 million." Now, there has been tremendous growth in the number of children being treated for AD/HD with medication, and there is a lot of concern, discussion, and debate about this. But why make up numbers? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in a national epidemiologic study, states that there are 4.4 million school-age children with AD/HD, and 2.5 million of these kids typically receive medications. The increase is an important topic - but why exaggerate the numbers, unless the intent is to scare?

The chiropractor then discusses his views of "contributing factors" causing AD/HD. Nowhere does he state the findings of the Surgeon General of the United States, National Institute of Mental Health, and the scientific establishment of America about the neurobiological origins of the disorder. He does claim that "busy families," "fast box food," and "processed food" cause AD/HD. The published peer-review science discounts these as causes of AD/HD.

He does cite the recent Lancet study on food dyes and its link to some hyperactive behavior in children. This is an important study that requires further research. He cites "excessive TV watching" as a cause of AD/HD. There are studies about the negative effects of excessive TV watching on some aspects of early child development, but it is not a cause of AD/HD. That is our challenge. We know that structured family life with proper nutrition, adequate exercise, family support, balanced and educational TV use, and community and frequently faith involvement contribute to healthy living. All these things are important and should be stressed in every family and community. But this is different than a "cause" of AD/HD. This is different than a multimodal treatment approach to AD/HD.

The chiropractor concludes that his clinical experience is that chiropractic care can play a positive role in the life of a child with AD/HD. That is true. I have seen a chiropractor since 1980. I find this helpful to maintaining my overall health. But there is no science that it is an effective or appropriate treatment for AD/HD. We need to assertively promote good health. Promoting good health is not identical to effectively treating a neurobiological disorder known as AD/HD.



Anonymous said...

Nice job, Clarke. I also find chiropractors helpful in many situations, but good healthcare providers know their limits. Unfortunately, many others are more focused on marketing than facts.

Anonymous said...

It's great that you're updating us here on the blog but that's like preaching to the choir. You did not mention, and I'm wondering, what you did in direct response to the article to dispel the myths that were being propogated to those that were actually reading the newsletter.

Anonymous said...

When I comment on such articles, I like to point out the ADD is genetic, and thus not "curable", but many factors, such as those listed by the chiropractor can cause symtoms similar to ADD. If your kid's "ADD" goes away by removing food dyes, it wasn't ADD, it was an allergy. There is a big difference!

Mom w/ true ADHD and allergies