ADHD as a (non) allergic hypersensitivity disorder : A hypothesis

L. Pelsser, J. Buitelaar, H.F.J. Savelkoul

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

53 Citations (Scopus)


Research data concerning the causal association between attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and allergies are conflicting. Allergic disorders, like asthma and eczema are clinical syndromes in which both genetic predisposition and environmental factors (pets, pollen and foods) contribute to its development. The hypothesis of ADHD, in some children also being an allergic disorder, is postulated based on comparison of the mechanisms underlying the development of ADHD and allergic disorders. According to the accepted terminology, ADHD may comply with the criteria of hypersensitivity, allergy and atopy. This hypothesis has to be thoroughly tested by randomized controlled trials using environmental triggers and immunologic research. As genes related to the immune system may be associated with ADHD, further genetic research is compulsory. Immunotherapeutic approaches, using immunotherapy and probiotics, can subsequently be implicated in the treatment of ADHD. If hypersensitivity to environmental stimuli like foods contributes to the development of ADHD, the assessment and treatment of ADHD will have to be reconsidered, thereby improving the quality of care for these patients.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107-112
JournalPediatric Allergy and Immunology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder
  • deficit hyperactivity disorder
  • controlled-trial
  • hyperkinetic syndrome
  • revised nomenclature
  • oligoantigenic diet
  • atopic-dermatitis
  • food allergy
  • double-blind
  • children

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