Help for children struggling with Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder could be a step closer, thanks to new research.
A University of Otago study has found children given vitamin and mineral supplements had dramatically less of the bacteria linked with causing ADHD.
Using the latest DNA technology, University of Otago, Christchurch geneticist Dr Aaron Stevens analysed the gut bacteria of children given micro-nutrients over a 10-week period. Seventeen children were part of the study.
"It was the first of its kind to investigate how the microbiome in children with ADHD could actually change in relation to a micro-nutrient treatment," Dr Stevens said.
He found the bacteria associated with the mental disorder Bifidobacterium was dramatically reduced in those children.
"Micro-nutrient treatment might actually be one possible pathway that could be used to modulate ADHD," Dr Stevens said.
University of Canterbury psychologist Professor Julia Rucklidge says it's an important breakthrough in establishing a connection between the gut and brain disorders.
"Those people who were assigned to the micro-nutrient intervention were identified as having much lower rates of aggression. Their mood was more stable and we also saw improvements in attention," Professor Rucklidge said.
A bigger study is underway now.
But mother Anya Armstrong already wants to see the expensive solution publicly funded for ADHD sufferers like her daughter, Arianna.
The disorder has made school life tough. The 13-year-old has been suspended multiple times.
"Physical aggression. Arianna made lots of holes in our old house. She threw some chairs into kids," Anya Armstrong said.
Government-funded medication Ritalin made Arianna feel like a zombie.
But when they trialled micro-nutrients everything changed.
"She was just a normal kid," Ms Armstrong said.
Arianna said: "I could, like, focus in school. And that's, like, a big problem for me."