ADHD Linked With Prenatal Mercury In New Study
ADHD is becoming ever more prevalent in young people (prompting an ongoing ADHD drugs shortage) but the condition’s origins are constantly under scrutiny by researchers as they probe the whys of the frustrating disorder common in childhood but present in adults.
ADHD, proper name Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, is marked by traits many often dismiss as typical of childhood, but, in sufferers, the inability to focus and complete tasks can make for a lifelong challenge. Stimulant medications like Concerta and Adderall have shown strong ability to keep ADHD in check, but dwindling quantities have left parents scrambling as demand for the medications outstrips supply.
A new study probing the causes behind ADHD has revealed that maternal exposure to mercury in the prenatal period could be a factor in whether or not a child will develop ADHD after birth. TIME cites a study done by Dr. Susan Korrick and colleagues at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. Korrick and team used data collected on 788 infants born between 1993 and 1998 in Massachusetts.
Researchers in the ADHD study measured mercury levels in hair samples from mothers at 10 days postpartum, following up at the eight-year mark with a questionnaire about children and their behavior to examine whether high levels of mercury correlated with ADHD symptoms in kids.
The mag explains:
“’The message that prenatal mercury exposure is not healthy for the fetus is not changed by this study,’ says Korrick. But because those studies have been inconsistent, Korrick says the results should ‘demonstrate fairly consistent findings related to ADHD behaviors.’”
Korrick also addressed seemingly conflicting advice not to avoid fish during pregnancy but to limit mercury exposure in light of the ADHD findings. She says:
“It’s not necessarily contradictory … It would be an unfortunate public health message if people stopped eating fish because of the concern over mercury. Understanding and appreciating that mercury avoidance is a prudent thing to do during pregnancy is important, but understanding and appreciating that fish consumption is important is worth remembering as well. Eating fish isn’t equivalent to getting exposed to mercury.”
ADHD is a common disorder in school aged children, and is diagnosed in three to five percent of school kids in the US.