Lead Poisoning a Suspect in ADHD

We have long been writing about the dangers of <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/lead_paint_poisoning">lead exposure on the general population and, most especially to children. We have pointed out that lead poisoning is considered the greatest environmental health threat to children under the age of six, a very serious issue given that these children face the greatest risks since their growing bodies absorb lead easier than adult bodies. Poisoning occurs from swallowing lead, for instance from consuming lead paint chips and from breathing lead paint dust.

A known neurotoxin, lead exposure can cause brain and nervous system damage in children and fetuses, behavioral and learning problems, slowed growth, hearing problems, headaches, mental and physical retardation, and behavioral and other health problems. Lead is known to cause cancer and reproductive harm and, in adults, can damage the nervous system. In high doses, lead poisoning can cause seizure, coma, and death. Experts agree that there is no safe level of lead.

Regardless, it seems as if recalls—most notably, children’s toys and products—containing lead are making headlines on a nearly daily basis. And, this accounts for items confirmed to be lead-tainted. There’s no telling what in the public domain is tainted with the toxic heavy metal even though, noted Natural News, that the government implemented significant reductions in environmental exposure to lead with automobile fuel and paint ingredient regulation. Nevertheless, lead is routinely found in, said Natural News, “everything from children’s costume jewelry and toys to soil and some imported candies.” Sadly, according to Dr. Nigg, said Natural News, “virtually all U.S. children have measurable levels of lead in their bodies.”

Now, Natural News says lead poisoning is a strong suspect in attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a behavioral diagnosis that is continually on the rise and leads to controversial stimulant medication treatment.

Natural News pointed out that research has typically looked at gene connection in ADHD research, but has recently focused on environmental issues, citing the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and a recent British study pointing to food additives—artificial colors, preservatives—that could be the origin of ADHD symptoms in some. Two emerging studies—in January’s Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and in this month’s Current Directions in Psychological Science—give some of the most promising evidence that lead could be a significant ADHD trigger.

“Chronic, long term exposure” the most common lead threat, is linked to increased blood lead levels in children, said Natural News. Oregon Health and Science University researcher Dr. Joel Nigg—co-author of both new studies—noted that nearly all Americans have some low-level lead exposure, reported Natural News, which he believes, could make it a likely link to ADHD. Dr. Nigg looked at lead levels in 236 children between six and 17 who were diagnosed with ADHD, and compared their results to a control group of children with no ADHD symptoms, said Natural News.

The children diagnosed with hyperactivity/impulsivity symptoms, without inattention, tested with slightly elevated lead levels; in a second study, the team found a stronger link between blood lead levels and patent and teachers reports of ADHD symptoms, said Natural News. Dr. Nigg believes lead attaches to areas in the “brain’s striatum and frontal cortex” where lead causes specific genes to either turn on or remain dormant, which can disrupt brain activity and alter psychological processes maintained affected neurons, which, he feels, can have an affect on “hyperactivity and lack of vigilance,” explained Natural News.

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