Prenatal pollution linked to ADHD
New research at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health has found that children exposed in the womb to a certain component of air pollution may be at a higher risk for developing ADHD.
For the study, the research team followed 233 nonsmoking pregnant women and their children in New York City from pregnancy into childhood, and found that children born to mothers exposed to high levels of a pollutant known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) during pregnancy had five times higher risk of developing symptoms of ADHD – particularly inattention--than children whose mothers did not have high PAH exposure. PAH are air pollutants caused by car traffic, residential boilers and electricity-generating plants that run on fossil fuel.
The connection between PAH and ADHD is not fully understood, but the researchers suggested several possibilities of how the PAH impacts the body, including disruption of the endocrine system, DNA damage, interference with placental growth factors, and oxidative stress.