Dr. Layton - Published Articles

REMEMBER WHEN MOM HAD ALL THE ANSWERS?

WE DO. Does your child have a constant runny nose or sore throat? Does he or she exhibit unusual behavior after eating specific foods? Have paint or chemicals in new carpet made your child dizzy or nauseous? These are questions that only a parent can answer. We believe that parents are the very best at knowing when their child is feeling sick. And we make a special effort to create a partnership between the parent and the doctor. Listening is the first step to diagnosing a medical problem, especially an allergy problem. Because children often will not or cannot tell their parents if something is wrong, it is necessary for a doctor to give special attention to the observations that parents make every day. At the offices of Richard E. Layton, M.D., we realize the important role parents play in their child's health and well-being. That's why we've been listening to parents for over 30 years. And helping children. So if you suspect that your child may be suffering from an allergy problem, call our office. We will listen.

Allergy: The Missing Link in Learning and Behavior Problems.
At age 6, Johnny's motor coordination and speech are declining. His grades are falling and his mother has been to see his teacher several times in the last month. He has had episodes during which he bit other children. His parents frequently observe alarming mood swings; Johnny is loving one moment and belligerent the next. Johnny's parents are confused and frustrated by the changes in his behavior. Nothing they are doing at home seems to be working. They are losing hope that he will soon improve. Is this story surprisingly familiar? Does your child exhibit unusually aggressive or energetic behavior? Has your child's teacher been calling home about your child's declining grades and disruptive behavior frequently? If so, you are not alone. Today, there are, on average, five or six hyperactive children in every classroom, and an increasing number of children are diagnosed with some type of learning disability. As the statistics increase, more and more parents are being confronted with the problems of a disruptive child and some answers. What is causing these problems? The diagnosis is typically hyperactivity, or more specifically, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). A child with this diagnosis is typically experiencing a variety of symptoms including: clumsiness, poor coordination, tremors aggressive behavior, periods of high energy followed by extreme fatigue. The diagnosis should be only the beginning of a patient analysis. Children may be diagnosed with a similar illness, but they each have different underlying causes. So a child's treatment cannot end purely with the treatment of the ADHD symptoms. In fact, there is often a distinct relationship between allergy, behavior and learning problems. The underlying cause of ADHD, therefore, may be that your child is suffering from an adverse allergic reaction.

Understanding Allergies:
The term allergy is most frequently associated with an adverse reaction caused by inhalants such as pollens (trees, grass, weeds, molds) and animal danders (cat, dog). Allergies, however, are much broader in scope and are caused not only by inhalants, but by the food we eat and the chemicals present in our air, food and water. How can allergies affect learning and behavior? Because the scope of allergies is so wide, they can affect almost every system in a child's body, especially the central nervous system. So your child's learning or behavior problem may actually be undetected allergies affecting the brain. What can parents do at home? Children who have been diagnosed with a variety of different medical labels (hyperactivity, learning disability, attention deficit disorder) have frequently responded remarkably well to a food elimination diet. For years, parents have been cutting out sugar, caffeine or red dye from their child's diet. A complete food elimination diet, recommended and controlled by a physician, takes this simple test one step further. In an elimination diet, milk, wheat, eggs, corn, sugar, chocolate, citrus, peanuts, and preservatives are eliminated for approximately one week. During this week the child is restricted to a diet of fruit, vegetables, poultry, fish, lean meat and grains. After one week, foods are reintroduced one at a time to see if a reaction develops. A direct cause and effect relationship is a signal to the parents and the physician to eliminate or limit particular foods from the child's diet. In order for elimination diets to be successful, parents must pay careful attention to their children. If a child becomes aggressive and hyperactive immediately following breakfast, he or she could be allergic to the wheat in most cereals. Because children often cannot tell their parents what they are feeling, parents need to have an especially watchful eye. Even if your child's health and behavior improve, a complete allergy evaluation by a physician may be necessary. Dietary and nutritional consultation is recommended to assure proper growth and development of children. The identification of allergies and the implementation of an elimination diet changed Johnny's life. Upon the recommendation of their family physician, Johnny's parents administered an elimination diet. The results were remarkable. His parents identified wheat, citrus, nuts and a number of other foods as the causes of his disruptive behavior. Although, his life will never be allergy-free, Johnny's attention span at school has improved significantly. His mood swings and aggressive behavior are rare and he can now participate in a normal family life.

Keeping Accurate Records:
The challenge that faces parents whose child has ADHD or similar learning and behavior problems is to recognize their child's problem at the earliest possible age. There are several important factors that all parents should keep in mind. Does the mother, father or close family member have a history of allergies? There is a greater likelihood that a child will have allergies if either parent or a close family member has allergies as well. Remember to keep track of your own illnesses--many parents are unaware that they too suffer from allergies.