Starting at a new school after a cross-country move from California to Massachusetts isn’t easy for any eighth grader, but Madison wasn’t just any middle school student. She was diagnosed with autism at age 2.
“No one understood my autism, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).” Madison says. “Kids would push me, steal my things, trip me in the hall, memorize my locker combination.”
Madison started feeling very negative.
After speaking with her mentor, she decided the kids in her class might be able to understand her better if they were more aware of her autism.
Jess, Madison’s mentor, gave her courage and a voice. “She changed me forever. She was always there for me and she always supported me.”
Renee Shutters is a mom with a mission. She has teamed with the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CPSI) on a change.org petition to M&M’s maker Mars, Inc., requesting the company remove artificial dye from the iconic candy. She noticed her 9-year-old son’s hyperactive behavior improved after she eliminated foods containing artificial dyes from his diet. Now, she wants Mars to use natural dyes in M&M’s.
It seems like a bit of a bold request—until the candy maker’s European formula is revealed. On the other side of the pond, Mars nixes the petroleum-based dyes it uses in the U.S. and replaces them with natural dyes. Otherwise, the European Union would require Mars to package Euro M&M’s with a label that warns the candy “may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.”
Aaron Bernstein, MD, MPH, pediatrician at Boston Children’s Hospital, thinks the petition may be on the right track. Available evidence suggests that artificial dyes carry the potential to increase hyperactivity in any child, says Bernstein.
But the focus on food coloring masks a far bigger problem, says Bernstein. “Kids (and their parents) are being bombarded with foods specifically intended to lure them in.” Nearly every store in the U.S. immerses consumers in a sea of cheap, unhealthy and supersized junk food, he continues. Candy marketing follows a seasonal cycle from Valentine’s Day to Halloween.
Every fall, the trick-or-treat ritual generates a massive candy crush; Americans purchase 600 million pounds of candy for Halloween. …
Billy is sitting in a chair in his third grade classroom, but can’t seem to find a comfortable position. He fidgets and adjusts, creating enough noise in the process to distract the other children around him. Sensing the disruption his teacher asks him read out loud, but after several attempts, Billy admits he isn’t sure what page the rest of the class was reading from. Some of the other students laugh as his teacher points out their place in the story, visibly annoyed at his inability to remain focused… …
A study published in the latest issue of Pediatrics takes a closer look at the relation between the ingestion of certain pesticides and cases of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in children. Children’s Hospital Boston’s Robert Wright, MD, MPH, and David Bellinger, PhD were co-authors on the study.
“Research shows the number of cases of ADHD is rising in the country, but it’s not very clear why,” says Wright. “One potential cause of this could be the chemicals we’ve introduced into our environments over the years at higher and higher rates, including pesticides.”
By analyzing the urine of its test subjects for traces of specific phosphates often found in pesticides, and comparing the data with ADHD information provided by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, the study concluded that children with higher levels of dialkyl phosphate in their systems were more likely to be diagnosed as having ADHD.