February 8, 2014

red dye 40 and Scarlett ...

I'm sharing this story because I feel that it may help some other parents out there who haven't heard about this very real issue. The story is my own personal experience, I haven't done a harrowing amount of research on the matter but what I have read, what I now know and what I've seen are enough for me. Listen up...

A few months ago Scarlett began acting out in ways that Gregg and I had never seen. Often at dinner time she would throw fits, flip like a switch and shout and scream uncontrollably. We thought here we go, the terrible twos at their best. But as the days went on I started to feel like these episodes were more than just typical temper tantrums. I remembered an article I had read a year or two before about food dyes causing behavioral problems in children that were sensitive to them. Particularly red dye 40. So I experimented. I checked every jar, bottle, box and bag in the kitchen and the only two items containing red dye 40 were Froot Loops and Flintstone's vitamins. I eliminated them. Almost immediately we saw a positive change in Scarlett's behavior. Less irrational outbursts, less defiance and no more demon-screaming. It was something but I wasn't one hundred percent convinced the dyes and the episodes were related. I know about the roller coaster of the terrible twos and knew we could have been riding the peak at the moment.

Two nights ago the "demon" returned.

I was midway through Scarlett's bedtime routine, past book-reading and onto song-singing. When I started to rest  her in the crib- as I do nightly- all hell broke loose. She stood up ferociously, back against the crib rail, eyes bugged out wide and screamed from her gut at the top of her lungs in a gravely sound that I had never ever heard before. I was honestly scared. For a split second I wondered if my child was possessed - I'm not kidding. This episode continued for close to forty-five minutes. I was able to calm her down for short periods of time but as she was calming and trying to focus on a song or just talking to me she would spew out those horrid screams intermittently - it was as though she had no control over them. That's what I kept thinking, She isn't in control of her emotions/actions right now. And I wondered what was in control.

Gregg finished the job by tagging in, rocking her and placing her back in the crib. While she did scream and cry for a few minutes, the horror show was over.

The next morning my mother sent me a text, horrified by the fact that she may have unknowingly caused that drama. After wracking her brain trying to think of what Scarlett had eaten at her house the day of the episode, she realized she had given Scarlett Jello after dinner. Red Jello. She remembered me mentioning the red dye article months before. We were in shock. For me, that is plenty of proof that my little girl is absolutely "sensitive" to artificial bullshit dyes that shouldn't be in foods in the first place.

I read a few more articles and I'm not going to quote or link to any here - if you want to do the research you can. I know people have very strong views on matters like this. I've seen enough to know the deal. While I give Scarlett mostly organic foods as it is, I am making even more conscious decisions at the grocery store. Eyes are wide open. The fact that we have something like seventy-five percent of children diagnosed with ADHD in the country always sounded bizarre to me. I think we all need to take a look in our cupboards and do some experimenting before we pull the 'hyperactivity' trigger. These dyes are found in nearly everything! Pudding, frozen treats, fruit snacks, juice, fruit punch, yogurt, cereals, chips, crackers, processed meats, candy - just to name a few. The change in Scarlett's behavior was frightening. She became a different child. To think that parents go through these episodes on a regular basis not knowing that there may be a simple way to turn it all around - it's mind-blowing.

If you suspect that your child's tantrums or fits are out of the ordinary, I urge you to look into this. I am just so thankful that I made the connection early on - before we got into more dangerous situations.