Parents News Now

ADHD Linked to Pollution Exposure During Pregnancy

Air Pollution Linked to ADHD in Children
Is air pollution a factor in causing ADHD? A new study published in the Public Library of Science journal PLOS ONE suggests there may be a link.

A news release states:

Prenatal exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAH, a component of air pollution, raises the odds of behavior problems associated with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, at age 9, according to researchers at the Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health at the Mailman School of Public Health.

Researchers followed more than 200 women and their children living in New York City. Moms had their placenta and umbilical cord blood tested for PAH levels after birth, and children had their urine tested at ages 3 or 5. The results revealed that PAH exposure during pregnancy lead to a much higher chance (five times higher) chance that a child would develop inattentive-type ADHD, one of three types of ADHD.

"The findings are concerning because attention problems are known to impact school performance, social relationships, and occupational performance," the study's lead author Frederica Perera said.

NBC News reports:

PAHs are generated when carbon-based things are burned — from steaks on the grill to coal or oil burned to generate electricity. In New York, "traffic and residential heating are major local sources. There is also some contribution from coal-burning sources in states upwind," Perera's team also noted.

It's not clear yet from this research how exactly PAHs are potentially linked to ADHD, but the study suggests relations to "the disruption of the endocrine system, DNA damage, oxidative stress, and interference with placental growth factors resulting in decreased exchange of oxygen and nutrients."

Eleven percent of kids ages 4 to 17 (that's 6.4 million!) have been diagnosed with ADHD, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study from 2013. If your child has been diagnosed with ADHD, read up on what you need to know here.

ADHD and Five Impaired Abilities

Photo of factory smoke courtesy of Shutterstock.