ADHD in France vs. US (Why so rare there?)

FlagsMarilyn Wedge makes some very important points in this article linked below that was just published in Psychology Today.  In it, she outlines the fact that 0.5 % of French children end up with the diagnosis of ADHD and on stimulants.  This number is 9% in the USA. 


For some children with mild symptoms, I agree with most of the points made in this article:
– A child’s social environment can affect symptoms of ADHD.
– In the USA the diagnosis tends to label (“pathologise”) what may be normal behavior.
– Dietary interventions, like avoiding dyes, artificial colors, preservatives, and allergens can help reduce symptoms.
– Doctors in the USA rely too heavily on the use of stimulant medication.
– French parents are better at setting and enforcing rules and limits, which helps these children.

 Where I disagree, is that I suspect a significant percentage of the ADHD kids in the USA actually have a more severe form of altered brain chemistry.  This is a result of our nation’s poor diet, excessive consumption of diet drinks and aspartame products, GMO foods, High Fructose Corn Syrup, and over vaccination (e.g. the new recommendation to give the Tdap during pregnancy with it’s 330 micrograms of aluminum, and the Hepatitis B vaccine with it’s 250 micrograms of aluminum to all newborns).

My brother is blessed with two girls, who are calm, brilliant and the best behaved children a parent could wish for.  He also lived in Belgium with them for a few years and he and his wife parent much in the style mentioned in this article.  I know he would agree wholeheartedly with the sentiments of this article, but there’s a catch. If he were raising my severely ADHD, impulsive, distractible kids would they be calm and compliant and not distractible?  I think not.  If these wonderful parents in France were raising the 40,000-80,000 autistic children we are producing in the USA every year, would their rules and boundaries change these children into not having autism? I think not.  I suspect 3-5 % of the 9% of American kids on stimulants could perhaps do as well off of them if provided the ideal environment, diet, etc. But that would require organic fresh foods, and a parent at home all the time, just for starters, which would be great but may not be practical or possible for the majority of our American families.  

I suspect what is happening in the USA is that we ACTUALLY have many more severely affected (biologically) ADHD, ADD, Anxiety, and Autism cases.  The JAMA February 13th. 2013 article, studying 85,000 pregnancies followed for 6 years in Norway, showed they have an autism rate of 1 in 500 to 1 in 1000 compared to our 1 in 50 to 1 in 100 rate in the USA.  No amount of parenting style will put a dent in those numbers.  That requires taking your folate in your prenatal vitamins as the study points out, and not giving the Hepatitis B vaccine to newborns who are not at risk for Hepatitis B. This was not mentioned in the study, but Norway does not do universal Hepatitis B vaccination of infants. Remember, the Hepatitis B vaccine contains 250 micrograms of aluminum per shot.  Infants can only get Hepatitis B if their mom has Hepatitis B since it’s like HIV in that you catch it from sex and IV drug use.

Remember parents, you can significantly reduce the likelihood that your future unborn children will end up with ADHD or autism. If you have a child affected, you should and must change the diet, take the right supplements and start providing the support and environment that will enable them to improve and in many cases loose a lot of the symptoms that challenge their lives.

Here is the article by Marilyn Wedge. Please feel free to read it and let me know what you think.

Dr. Paul




  • Can ADHD be hereditary?

    • Paul Thomas, M.D.

      ADHD is a diagnosis based on symptoms. Those symptoms represent underlying nutrient deficiencies and toxin exposures that exceed the child’s ability to clear those toxins. What is hereditary is a persons biochemistry. For example, I am a carrier of a metabolic defect or risk factor that makes it more difficult to get rid of toxins. It thus makes sense that my children who live in a more toxic world than I grew up in, would have greater difficulty – which indeed they did. For most parents I see this same pattern. One or both parents might have mild tendencies toward being hyperactive or impulsive or inattentive or just “quirky”. Their child or children have a more severe presentation. What can be done? Lots. We need to assess for nutritional deficiencies, and live a life that minimizes toxins.

  • Julia

    I recently found your website and I agree with your emphasis on nutrition and toxin reduction. I am a pediatrician with a M.S. in Nutritional Sciences who is moving to Portland this summer. I would love to correspond with you and hopefully have lunch or some other in-person discussion about these topics once I’ve moved to Portland.

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