Double blind challenges with tartrazine and benzoic acid were performed in hospital in 24 children whose parents gave a definite history of a purely behavioural immediate adverse reaction to one of these substances. The patients, whose ages ranged from 1.6 to 12.4 years, were on a diet that avoided these items, and in all there was a clear history that any lapse of the diet caused an obvious adverse behavioural reaction within two hours. In no patient was any change in behaviour noted either by the parents or the nursing staff after the administration of placebo or active substances. Twenty two patients returned to a normal diet without problems, but the parents of two children insisted on continuing the diet. While popular belief has it that additives may have harmful behavioural effects, objective verification is required to prevent overdiagnosis.
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