NOTES FROM THE AAEM MEETINGS*
The Shipley Project: Do Criminal Children respond to Diet?
In London, England the Shipley police referred their "ten worst" criminal children to Dr. L. M. McEwen and his coworkers for study and possible help by changing their diets at home. One mother said she could not possibly cope any more and did not take part. Nine children participated. All the families were terribly concerned about their children—always wondering what awful thing they would do next. One child had destroyed a church and church yard in a single afternoon; had also put concrete blocks in front of a train; and had run out of the police station and dashed off on a stolen motorcycle.
The first question asked in the study was, "Is it true that children known to the police as frequent criminal offenders are likely to suffer from the hyperkinetic syndrome?" The answer was an overwhelming, "Yes." All the children ranked high on objective tests for hyperkinesis. Dr. McEwen emphasized that, when choosing the children, the police superintendent had not considered hyperactivity, he had chosen the children solely because of their criminal behavior.
Secondly they asked, "Is it possible to modify the behavior of juvenile criminals by means of diet?" Much work relating diet and hyperactivity has already been done. For example, in a hospital outpatient study many children improved using some vitamins and minerals along with a simple diet of whole foods that provoke few food allergies.1 "The diet consisted of two meats (e.g., lamb and chicken), two carbohydrate sources (e.g.., potatoes and rice), two fruits (e.g., bananas and pears), vegetables (cabbage, sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, cucumber, celery, carrots), and water." In a second phase of the study individual foods were added to see which ones provoked symptoms and in a third phase some children were given antigens for certain foods to which they had reacted. Interestingly, in an earlier study of hyperactive children: "Artificial colorants and preservatives were the commonest provoking substances, but no child was sensitive to these alone."2
In the Shipley project they used this simple diet with one modification: They did not use rice because several children reacted to it and also it was more expensive than bread, making it an impractical choice for poor families. Mrs. Eunice Rose went to the homes every week teaching how the simple foods could be prepared. In the past a meal has often consisted of just bread and jam. All nine children responded promptly to the diet, changing from being wild and uncontrollable to being quiet and charming.
At the AAEM meetings Dr. Doris Rapp showed movies of children reacting to foods and chemicals by becoming aggressive—biting and kicking a parent and then afterward being essentially unaware of what had happened.3
Dr. McEwen referred to research showing that "the hyperkinetic syndrome is associated with reduced blood flow and reduced glucose metabolism in the frontal lobes of the brain."
The Shipley Project showed that it is possible "to provide the necessary diets within deprived families and to avoid institutionalizing the children." After a year six of the nine children were doing well. Unfortunately, three of the children had formerly been used for criminal projects by older gang members, who wanted to continue using the children, and now fed them candy, exacerbating their symptoms.
Finally, they state, "It is generally believed that social deprivation, bad parenting, and poor nutrition are the chief causes of criminal behavior in childhood. Our results suggest that these assumptions are incorrect: the most important cause of childhood criminality is likely to be the hyperkinetic syndrome provoked by food allergy and cure is possible."
1Egger, J., S. Stolla, L. M. McEwen, "Controlled trial of hyposensitization in children with food-induced hyperkinetic syndrome," The Lancet, 339: 1150-3, May 9, 1992.
2Egger, J. et al, "Controlled trial of oligoantigenic treatment in the hyperkinetic syndrome," The Lancet, 332: 540-5, March 9, 1985.
3Videotapes of children reacting can be purchased from the Practical Allergy Research Foundation (PARF), P.O. Box 60, Buffalo NY 14223-0060 (716-875-0398). See also, "Delinquency -- Does It Start Early in Allergic Children?" Chapter 21 in Is This Your Child by Doris Rapp, MD.
*Thanks to the courtesy of the American Academy of Environmental Medicine your editor received a press pass to all four days of the twenty-seventh annual meeting of the AAEM last October in Lincolnshire, Illinois. This article only gives an inkling of the many fascinating topics that were covered. More information will appear in later issues of NOHA NEWS.
Article from NOHA NEWS, Vol. XVIII, No. 1, Winter 1993, pages 2-3.