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Pediatr Nurs. 2007 Mar-Apr;33(2):138-43.

Diet and child behavior problems: fact or fiction?

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  • 1Florida State University College of Nursing, Tallahassee, USA.


Dietary treatment of children with behavioral disorders has had wide public appeal and been a source of controversy since the 1920's. Yet, to date, there is little empirical evidence supporting the effectiveness of dietary restrictions in treating child psychiatric disorders, in particular, autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Thus, the purpose of this article is (a) to provide historical background information regarding dietary treatment in children with behavioral disorders, (b) review the evidence-based literature for common dietary interventions, (c) discuss limitations in the research, including challenges inherent in conducting well-controlled dietary studies, and (d) provide recommendations regarding how nurses in primary care settings can assist families in making informed decisions.

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