Increased risk of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in adolescents with high salivary levels of copper, manganese, and zinc

D’Artagnan M. Robinson, Karen L. Edwards, Michael T. Willoughby, Katrina R. Hamilton, Clancy B. Blair, Douglas A. Granger, Elizabeth A. Thomas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Exposure to toxic heavy metals has been associated with the development of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). However, fewer studies have examined the associations between abnormal levels of essential trace metals and ADHD, and none have done so using saliva. We investigated whether salivary metals were associated with ADHD in adolescents aged 12 from the Family Life Project (FLP) using a nested case–control study design that included 110 adolescents who met diagnostic criteria for inattentive (ADHD-I), hyperactive-impulsive (ADHD-H), or combined type ADHD (ADHD-C) (cases) and 173 children who did not (controls). We used inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrophotometry to measure chromium, copper, manganese, and zinc in saliva samples. We employed logistic regression models to examine associations between quartile levels of individual metals and ADHD outcomes by subtype. Salivary copper levels were significantly associated with increased odds of any ADHD diagnosis (OR = 3.31, 95% CI: 1.08–10.12; p = 0.04) and with increased odds of ADHD-C diagnosis (OR = 8.44, 95% CI: 1.58–45.12; p = 0.01). Salivary zinc levels were significantly associated with increased odds of ADHD-C diagnosis (OR = 4.06, 95% CI: 1.21–13.69; p = 0.02). Salivary manganese levels were also significantly associated with increased odds of ADHD-C diagnosis (OR = 5.43, 95% CI: 1.08–27.27, p = 0.04). This is the first study using saliva to assess metal exposure and provide a potential link between salivary levels of copper, manganese, and zinc and ADHD diagnoses in adolescents. Public health interventions focused on metal exposures might reduce ADHD incidence in low-income, minority communities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalEuropean Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

Keywords

  • Attention-deficit and hyperactivity disorder
  • Metals
  • Saliva
  • Subtype

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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