Environmental Causes of ADHD

Nearly half a million cases of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder among U.S. children are related to exposures to lead or their mothers’ smoking while pregnant. A recent study suggested that these two environmental hazards might account for more than a quarter of drug-treated ADHD cases.

The study found that children whose mothers smoked before giving birth-but not those exposed later-were 2.5 times as likely as other children to have ADHD. And kids with the highest blood—lead concentrations were 4.1 times as likely to have the disorder. What this boils down to is about 480,000 ADHD cases could be attributed to smoke exposure, lead exposure, or a combination of the two.

Terry Pfau, DO, HMD

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