Environmental exposure to lead, but not other neurotoxic metals, relates to core elements of ADHD in Romanian children: performance and questionnaire data.Environ Res. 2010 Jul; 110(5):476-83.ER
Neurobehavioral measures of attention, and clinical features of the attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have been studied in pediatric environmental lead research. However rarely, if ever, have performance measures of attention or executive functions and questionnaire-based quantitative ADHD-observations been studied in the same subjects. We examined associations between pediatric blood lead concentrations (PbB), as well as those of mercury (Hg), and aluminum (Al), and performance in four different attention tasks, as well as behavioral ratings from an ICD-10 (hyperactivity) and DSM-IV-coded (attention deficit) German questionnaire (FBB-ADHS). Asymptomatic, 8-12 year old children from two Romanian cities were studied, namely Bucharest and Pantelimon, a city near a metal-processing plant. Blood was analyzed for Pb, Al, and Hg. Data from 83 children were available for final analysis. We assessed attention performance by means of four tasks of the computer-based ADHD-taylored German KITAP-battery. We also received questionnaire ratings from parents and teachers covering three ADHD-dimensions. Multiple linear regression analysis was used to estimate associations between the three neurotoxic trace metals in blood and the different ADHD features. After adjusting for eleven potentially confounding variables we found consistent borderline to significant associations between Pb, but not other metals, in blood and various performance- and questionnaire data. False alarm responses (FAR) in the KITAP subtests rather than response latencies exhibited positive associations with PbB. Questionnaire ratings for ADHD dimensions also revealed PbB-related adversity. With any two-fold increase of PbB outcome changed markedly, namely up to 35%. Restriction to children with PbBs<10mug/dl had only a marginal influence on outcome.The converging evidence from performance- and questionnaire data confirms that core elements of ADHD are adversely affected by low environmental PbB even below 10mug/dl, but not by other neurotoxic trace metals. Observed effect-sizes are considerably larger than those typically found for lead-related IQ-deficit, thus suggesting that attention deficit could be the more basic adverse effect of lead in children. This is the first study from Central and Eastern Europe dealing with links between environmental exposure of children to neurotoxic metals and ADHD.