Lauren Crosby, MD, FAAP, a Los Angeles based pediatrician

Helping a loved one who has ADHD to focus and regulate their emotions is a fact of life. In my experience, the holiday season can add its own twists and turns for children diagnosed with ADHD, as their schedule is out of sync and their emotions can move like a rollercoaster. While some families, in collaboration with their child’s doctor, consider giving their child with ADHD a drug holiday, many health care practitioners recommend holding steady with the child’s current course of ADHD drug therapy.

As a pediatrician who works with children diagnosed with ADHD, I have a few thoughts to share about drug holidays and the use of a medical food such as Vayarin.

Drug holidays
If you are unfamiliar, the term “drug holiday” involves a physician’s decision to take a child off prescription medications (like stimulants) for a specific amount of time to give them a break from the side effects that can occur, including insomnia and a loss of appetite. For some children, they are scheduled for long holiday breaks from school, or for other children, during weekends. This allows for the body to “have a break” and in most cases easily re-regulate when the medication is added back into their regimen.

Collaborate with your doctor
Every child is different, and so is their ADHD management program. Your child’s physician should be your first stop if you have any questions about drug holidays. It’s important to speak with your child’s doctor before adjusting your child’s medication use, as well as their daily diet.

A medical food for children with ADHD  
Well before the start of breaks from school, some physicians and families explore non-drug approaches for children with ADHD.

One example of a non-drug approach is Vayarin, which is a medical food for the dietary management of the lipid (healthy fat) imbalances associated with ADHD in children. Vayarin is clinically shown to safely improve emotional regulation and attention in children with ADHD.

If you are considering adding Vayarin to your child’s ADHD management program, it is critical that you start early enough (well before the drug holiday) for the medical food to build up in the body. Unlike pharmaceuticals, medical foods are nutrition-based, so it takes an average of 30-90 days for the healthy lipids to reach optimal levels.

Ask your doctor about this medical food as a safe, nutritional approach to managing your child’s ADHD.

Explore more with your child’s doctor
You know your child best. As you evaluate if a non-drug approach to ADHD could be the right choice for your child, I recommend exploring the following questions with your child’s doctor.

  1. Does your child have trouble focusing?
  2. Does your child have a difficult time regulating their emotions?
  3. Does your child find it difficult to control their impulses?

Ask your doctor about emotional dysregulation, which can be characterized by disruptions in class or through simple conversations, emotional outbursts, or difficulty calming down. Children with emotional dysregulation may benefit from a medical food, like Vayarin.

Lauren R. Crosby, MD, FAAP

Dr. Lauren Crosby is a nationally-recognized parenting expert and pediatrician. After graduating from Smith College and the UCLA School of Medicine, she trained at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center during which time she served as Chief Resident. She is certified by the American Board of Pediatrics and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). She serves on the AAP’s Council on Communications in Media. Dr. Crosby is a pediatric consultant/medical correspondent for TV news outlets, is on the Board of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, a Founding Member of Hope in A Suitcase, and pediatric expert and contributor for Brightest.com, a website for pregnancy and childhood health & nutrition. She is currently in practice at La Peer Pediatrics in Beverly Hills, CA and is the mother of two boys.

Twitter: @DrLaurenCrosby
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Dr. Lauren Crosby is a medical consultant to VAYA, the company that brings you Vayarin® and Vayarin® Plus. 

To learn more about medical foods and Vayarin, please visit www.vayadirect.com.

Vayarin®, Vayarin® Plus and Vayacog® are intended for use under medical supervision; make sure to tell your healthcare provider that you or your loved one is taking Vayarin® , Vayarin® Plus  or Vayacog® and keep them informed about how it’s going.