Exposure to air pollution during pregnancy does not appear to increase symptoms of ADHD

June 26, 2018, Barcelona Institute for Global Health

Exposure to air pollution during pregnancy may not be associated with an increased risk of attention-deficit and hyperactivity symptoms in children aged 3 to 10 years. This was the conclusion of a new study led by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), a centre supported by the "la Caixa" Banking Foundation. The study included data on nearly 30,000 children from seven European countries.

With a worldwide prevalence of 5 percent, ADHD is the most common childhood behavioural disorder. ADHD is characterized by a pattern of inattention, hyperactivity and/or impulsivity that is atypical for the child's age. These symptoms can interfere with development and have been associated with academic problems in school-aged children as well as an increased risk of problems with addiction or risky behaviours.

Recent studies have concluded that prenatal exposure to air pollution could affect brain development in children, but the evidence on the effects of air pollution on ADHD symptoms is limited.

The new study, published in the journal Epidemiology, forms part of the European Study of Cohorts for Air Pollution Effects (ESCAPE). It included 30,000 children between 3 and 10 years of age from eight birth cohorts in Germany, Denmark, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden and Spain (the latter consisting of four sub-cohorts from the INMA project in Gipuzkoa, Granada, Sabadell and Valencia). The study estimated exposures to nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5) throughout pregnancy at each participant's home address. ADHD symptoms were assessed using various questionnaires completed by parents and/or teachers.

Joan Forns, lead author of the study, said, "Our findings show no association between exposure to air pollution during pregnancy and of ADHD symptoms."

"Given the conclusions of this study and the inconsistent findings of previous studies, we hypothesise that exposure to air pollution might not increase the risk of ADHD in children in the general population," explained ISGlobal researcher Mònica Guxens, who coordinated the study. "However, we believe that to air could have harmful effects on neuropsychological development, especially in genetically susceptible ."

It has been shown that ADHD is the result of complex interactions between genetic background (heritability is approximately 75 percent), environmental factors and social determinants. "We will continue to study the role of in order to rule out its association with childhood ADHD and improve our understanding of what causes this disorder," said Guxens.

Explore further: Air pollution and poverty stack the deck for ADHD

More information: Joan Forns et al, Air pollution exposure during pregnancy and symptoms of attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder in children in Europe, Epidemiology (2018). DOI: 10.1097/EDE.0000000000000874

Related Stories

Air pollution and poverty stack the deck for ADHD

October 4, 2017
Scientists at the Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health (CCCEH) at the Mailman School of Public Health report the first evidence that prenatal exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH)—carcinogenic ...

Air pollution linked to brain alterations and cognitive impairment in children

March 8, 2018
A new study performed in the Netherlands has linked exposure to residential air pollution during fetal life with brain abnormalities that may contribute to impaired cognitive function in school-age children. The study, published ...

Prenatal exposure to ADHD meds tied to neonatal morbidity

November 13, 2017
(HealthDay)—Exposure to attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) medication during pregnancy is associated with increased risk of neonatal morbidity, according to a study published online Nov. 10 in Pediatrics.

ADHD or just immature?

March 10, 2016
Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is typically diagnosed in childhood and manifests as an inability to sustain attention and control activity levels and impulse control. Some reports have indicated a prevalence ...

Lead exposure linked to ADHD in kids with genetic mutation

January 7, 2016
Exposure to small amounts of lead may contribute to ADHD symptoms in children who have a particular gene mutation, according to new research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological ...

Breathing dirty air during pregnancy raises odds of childhood ADHD-related behavior problems

November 5, 2014
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 ...

Recommended for you

Siblings of children with autism or ADHD are at elevated risk for both disorders

December 10, 2018
Later-born siblings of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are at elevated risk for both disorders, a new study led by Meghan Miller, assistant professor in the ...

Children who start school a year early more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD, study shows

November 28, 2018
Could a child's birthday put them at risk for an ADHD misdiagnosis? The answer appears to be yes, at least among children born in August who start school in states with a Sept. 1 cutoff enrollment date, according to a new ...

Newly mapped genes may hold keys to ADHD

November 26, 2018
Millions of American kids with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may have a genetic vulnerability to the disease, a new study suggests.

Global study finds youngest in class more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD

October 15, 2018
A new global study involving the University of Adelaide has found that children who are the youngest in their classroom are more likely to be diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) than their older ...

Much still unclear about relationship between screen media use and ADHD in children

October 5, 2018
There is a statistically small relationship between children's screen media use and ADHD-related behaviours. This is the finding of an extensive literature review on this subject carried out by researchers from the UvA's ...

Brain scans reveal common patterns can predict variations in ADHD

September 24, 2018
Distinct brain patterns can help explain variations in the way children present with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), paving a course towards improved treatment and support for the common neurodevelopmental ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.