By Lynn Parsons
Remember that kid who couldn’t sit still in school? The blurry one in the class picture? Most adults would say that youngster had ADHD. Identification is relatively easy, while causes and effective treatments remain elusive. Recent discoveries reveal possible culprits.
In 70% of ADHD cases, researchers believe the cause is genetic. What about the remainder? Strong evidence has identified lead, a neurotoxin associated with brain damage. This exposure is not just from aging paint.
Two studies have linked low level exposure to this disorder. Cheap children’s jewelry, imported dishes and polluted ground water are a few of the culprits. One study demonstrated that children with impulsivity and hyperactivity problems have higher levels of lead in their blood. The second study revealed levels of the heavy metal can be directly linked to the severity of ADHD symptoms.
Another group of suspects in the ADHD mystery is phthalates. These chemicals are commonly found in many plastics. Many studies have examined these substances in the past with inconclusive results. New research from Korea examined the urine of children for phthalates metabolites, which occur as a result of exposure. Higher levels of metabolites were associated with more ADHD symptoms.
None of these studies have provided proof that either substance causes ADHD. More research is needed. But common sense indicates less exposure until more is known.
How can you limit your exposure to lead?
• Purchase painted toys from reputable companies.
• Have your drinking water tested.
• Be careful about painted dishes or those made from pewter.
What about reducing phthalate contacts?
• Don’t eat much processed food.
• Shop for toys and baby products with companies who use phthalate-free plastics.
• Read cosmetic labels.
• Breathe fresh air because outdoor air contains lower levels than that indoors.