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Title: The behaviour of three year olds in relation to allergy and exposure to artificial additives
Author: Bateman, Belinda J.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3450 7916
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2004
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This study had two components. The first was a population survey to ascertain the prevalence of behaviour problems and/or allergy and their associated risk factors. The second part of the study was a randomised placebo controlled cross-over-trial. The study population consisted of 2731 3-year-olds resident on the Isle of Wight. There was a 70% response rate to the behavioural assessment which consisted of 3 parent completed, validated questionnaires. 50% of the population were also assessed for atopic status (at least one positive skin prick test of ≥ 2mm mean wheal diameter) and allergic symptoms (questions from the International Study Asthma Allergies in Childhood). There was no difference between those who consented to assessment and those who did not. 277 of these children (10%) completed a 4 week randomised placebo controlled cross-over trail. Children defined as both atopic and hyperactive were selected and matched for sibship position, maternal education and month of birth with 3 other children, who were atopic only, hyperactive only or neither. The challenge was 20 mg of artificial food colourings (sunset yellow, tartrazine, carmoisine, and ponceau 4R) and 45mg of sodium benzoate, within a daily mixed fruit juice vehicle. The challenge and placebo were shown to be indistinguishable in taste and appearance. The child's attention, impulsivity and activity was assessed with weekly clinic-based tests, and a daily parental questionnaire. Using validated cut off scores from the parental questionnaires 11.6% or the 3-yeare-olds had a general behaviour problem, 10-4% had problems with impulsivity, activity and attention, referred to as hyperactive behaviour. Parental rating of their child's behaviour as hyperactive or not was confirmed by clinic tests (t 3.87, df 275, p<0.001). Atopy and allergic symptoms within the preceding 12 months were common; 19% were atopic, 33% reported wheeze, 27% symptoms of rhinitis, 19% symptoms of eczema, 0.6% reported life-threatening symptoms associated with food. All four conditions were associated with atopy. Although wheeze and rhinitis were more prevalent in children in deprived circumstances, atopy was associated with affluence. Atopy per se was not significantly associated with an increased risk of behaviour problems but children with symptoms of eczema and/or rhinitis had an increased risk of behaviour problems reported by parents, not substantiated by clinic testing. In the randomised placebo controlled cross-over trial there was a improvement in behaviour when artificial food additives were withdrawn, and significant elevations in hyperactive behaviour during the active period based on parental reports, but not confirmed by clinic tests. These effects were observed across the whole group of children, not specifically in those with prior behaviour problems, and independent of their atopic status.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available