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Wednesday
Sep072011

Can Coffee Treat ADHD?

John Foxx/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- When Christie Haskell saw the classic symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD, in her 7-year-old son, Rowan, she became concerned.

"At home there was a lot of just hyperactivity," she told ABC News. "Not being able to keep his hands to himself, talking when he's not supposed to talk, lack of concentration or ability to concentrate when he needed to."

Convinced Rowan suffered from ADHD, but without an official diagnosis, Haskell turned to the Internet in search of a treatment that would ease her son's attention difficulties.

ADHD is one of the most common behavioral problems in children, characterized by difficulty in sustaining attention, impulsivity and hyperactivity.  It occurs more frequently in boys than girls, and is typically treated with drugs.

Haskell wanted a treatment for her son that wouldn't give him the side effects of traditional drugs, like Ritalin, commonly used to treat the disorder.  What she found, and began to use to treat Rowan, took her not to the medicine counter nor even the natural health foods store, but rather to her kitchen, where she brewed a pot of coffee.

Now, twice a day, seven days a week, Rowan gets a four ounce cup of coffee, delivered as consistently as, and just like, medicine.

Haskell, a writer for Café Mom's blog The Stir, says the caffeinated beverage, known for its ability to rev up a person's energy, actually makes her son less jittery.

"He doesn't overreact if we ask him to pick up Legos, rather than screaming and throwing himself on the floor," she said.  "And if we ask him to sit down and do homework, he can actually do it."

Rowan says he enjoys two things about his coffee regimen.

"It tastes good," he told ABC.  "And it calms me down."

Haskell blogged about her treatment on The Stir, and says plenty of parents claim similar success using coffee to treat ADHD.

Doctors, however, warn there is no proof that coffee works as a treatment for ADHD.  They also, more ominously, warn the well-documented, dangerous side effects of caffeine in children -- from a higher heart rate, to higher blood pressure and headaches -- may do more harm than good in the still developing bodies of young children like Rowan.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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