(NEWS CENTER) -- More than five million children in this country are diagnosed with ADHD -- but how many of them truly have the disorder? Could some of those children be eating something that only makes them appear to have the condition? There may be a link between hyperactivity in children and a food coloring known as Red Dye #40.
Color additives have been used to enhance our food for nearly 150 years. The federal government began to over see their use in the 1880's and in 1931 approved 15 dyes for food, medications and cosmetics, six of those colors are still being used today. Lately the focus has been on Red Dye #40.
And there have been many studies on whether it leads to hyper activity.
Laura Kitchen certainly believes it affects her six year old son Thomas. She was worried that her son may have ADHD and took him to neuropsychologist Dr. Michael Wolff who treats children with hyper activity disorders. He says some children are allergic to or intolerant of food additives and recommended eliminating Red Dye #40 from Thomas' diet.
"Some of our first responses here are to look at general health and to remove artificial food dyes which is a very common recommendation," said Dr. Wolff.
Kitchen says she noticed a change right away.
The Food and Drug Administration says its scientists have found color additives to be safe. While the agency does monitor reports of problems with Red Dye #40 and other food colorings the FDA says, "individual anecdotal experiences from the elimination of a particular food item may not have been performed in a scientific manner and that many other factors may be responsible for any observed changes."
But Laura Kitchen remains convinced Red Dye 40 is the root cause of her son's behavior changes. She reads labels carefully and says its become easier to find products without it.