Low Lead Levels In Blood Linked to ADHD: New Research

Levels of lead in childrens blood which were previously thought to be safe could actually be contributing to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), according to researchers at Michigan State University.  Their research findings will appear in the March issue of Biological Psychiatry, the official journal of the Society of Biological Psychiatry. 

According to scientists, the findings support a growing consensus among physicians that there is no safe level of lead in the blood, and that tougher regulations are needed on consumer items that can introduce lead into the bloodstream, such as cosmetics, cleaning supplies and childrens toys. 

The study, which examined 150 children with and without ADHD, found that although all children in the study exhibited some level of lead in their blood, the children with ADHD tested positive for markedly higher levels.  No children — even those with ADHD — had lead levels higher than those deemed safe by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  Lead is known to have a neurotoxic effect on brain growth and synapse formation, which is important to the development of self-regulatory behavior — behavior that children with ADHD have difficulty maintaining.  Children under the age of 2 are particularly sensitive to the toxic effects of lead. 

The study did not examine potential exposure points where children may have been exposed to lead, but researchers speculate that old paint in homes and schools is the most common contributor.  Aging water pipes are also a potential source of lead contamination. 

Previously on the DC Metro Area Medical Malpractice Law Blog, we have posted articles related to:

  • A study showing that 9% of U.S. kids suffer from ADHD
  • A new publication that presents ADHD treatment options without drug company bias
  • A recent Mattel, Inc. recall over lead paint concerns

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