A while back, I took a first aid and CPR class, and I discovered that asthma and allergies were linked. What I didn’t know at the time is that there may also be a correlation between asthma, allergies, and ADHD.
Allergies and asthma often run in families, and there’s a 75% chance that your children will have asthma or an allergy if you and your spouse also have some type of allergy. If neither you nor your spouse has an allergy or asthma, your child still has a 10-15% chance of developing an allergy anyway. Also, 60-80% of children with allergies also form asthma at some point in their lives as well. ADHD also runs in families, but how it’s unclear how the disorder is formed.
A recent study published in the scientific journal of the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology found that boys who have allergies or asthma may have an increased risk of developing ADHD. Lead author of the study, Eelko Hak, says that "ADHD, a chronic mental health disorder, is most commonly found in males, while asthma is also more common in young boys than girls. 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."
The research used 8884 boys with ADHA from the Netherlands and from Boston and also 3,536 boys without the disorder. It was found that 34% of the boys with ADHD were found to have had asthma and 35% of them also had an allergic disorder as well. The research team hypothesized that it isn’t the presence of the allergies or asthma that makes the boys more likely to develop ADHD, rather it is the medication used to treat allergies and asthma that makes developing the disorder more likely.
However, it’s not just a simple matter of stopping the medications because the benefits far out weight the risks, says Dr. Gailen Marshall, editor-in-chief of Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. More research is being done to understand exactly how the medications are putting boys at risk of developing ADHD, but until more information is found, parents are being told to keep their children on their current medication especially for severe asthma and allergies.
Source: American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI). "Children with allergy, asthma may be at higher risk for ADHD." ScienceDaily, 13 Aug. 2013. Web. 24 Aug. 2013.