Children with allergies and asthma — particularly boys — may be at increased risk for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. That’s the upshot of new research, published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, that suggests there may be a common link among the conditions, which are increasing in the United States.
"ADHD, a chronic mental health disorder, is most commonly found in males, while asthma is also more common in young boys than girls," said lead researcher Eelko Hak. "We found there is an increased risk of ADHD in boys with a history of asthma and an even stronger risk associated with milk intolerance."
To reach their conclusions, researchers in the Netherlands and Boston studied 884 boys with ADHD and 3,536 boys without the disorder. Of the children with ADHD, 34 percent had asthma and 35 percent had an allergic disorder. The study suggests medications used to treat these conditions may be a factor in the increased ADHD risk.
"Further research is needed to understand why there appears to be an increased risk of developing ADHD in children with allergy and asthma," said Gailen Marshall, M.D., editor-in-chief of Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.
"Medications for these conditions far outweigh the risks, and can be life-saving in some conditions. Treatment should not be stopped, unless advised by a board-certified allergist."
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