Elimination diets for ADHD and eczema that preclude the natural salicylates found in fruit are harming children and should not be recommended, allergy specialists have warned.
Salicylate elimination diets are being recommended by clinicians for infants with conditions such as eczema, ADHD and gastrointestinal problems despite a lack of evidence to support their use, according to allergists at the Sydney Children’s Hospital.
The diets typically recommend avoidance of fruit, vegetables and food additives.
In a presentation at the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy annual meeting
next month the Sydney allergists will report data showing that about half of children prescribed such a diet experience adverse outcomes such as failure to thrive.
In a review of 74 children whose parents reported using the salicylate elimination diet, they found that the average age at initiation was two years of age and about half had been on the diet for a year.
Adverse events were reported for 47% of children including failure to thrive or weight loss in 20%, food aversion in 9%, eating disorders in 6%, and some cases of nutrient deficiency and alopecia.
The allergists say there is no evidence in the literature to support the use of salicylate elimination diets for the conditions they were prescribed for. A survey of international food allergists also found no support for the diet for conditions such as ADHD.
“Given the potential harm in the absence of evidence of benefit, we advise against the prescription of these diets,” they conclude.