Exposure to miniscule amounts of lead may contribute to ADHD symptoms in children who have a particular gene mutation, according to new research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.
“This research is valuable to the scientific community as it bridges genetic and environmental factors and helps to illustrate one possible route to ADHD. Further, it demonstrates the potential to ultimately prevent conditions like ADHD by understanding how genes and environmental exposures combine,” says lead researcher Joel Nigg, professor of psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience at the OHSU School of Medicine.
The analysis showed a heightened association between lead exposure and ADHD symptoms — particularly hyperactivity-impulsivity — in those with the HFE C282Y gene mutation, present in approximately 10 percent of US children.
“Because the C282Y gene helps to control the effects of lead in the body and the mutation was spread randomly in the children, the findings of our study are difficult to explain unless lead is, in fact, part of the cause of ADHD, not just an association,” explained Nigg.
The study also found that lead effects were more robust in males, which is consistent with previous research specific to neurodevelopmental conditions and gender. Children without HFE C282Y mutations showed amplified symptoms as lead exposure increased, but not as consistently...
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