I always felt like I have a strong urge to discover things, you know. Like a pioneer! Venturing out into the unknown to explore and experience the chaos first-hand. Apparently my ADHD was not welcome in this modern world, and it is described as a ‘disorder’. Well, to me I make sense…
Let’s take a closer look at ADHD
ADHD is one of the most common psychiatric disorders in children and adolescents.
It affects 8%-9% of all children, which means nearly everyone has either known someone with ADHD or knows someone who does. ADHD is marked by age-inappropriate levels of hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention.
While many factors may contribute to the development of ADHD, recent studies have pinpointed a likely cause: prenatal exposure to heavy metals.
In the past decade, scientists have found significant associations between elevated levels of lead and other heavy metals in utero and an increased risk for developing ADHD later in life.
These findings suggest that it may be possible to diagnose children with ADHD before they ever show symptoms through prenatal lead screening, significantly cutting down on the number of missed diagnoses and letting doctors begin treating patients earlier.
Prenatal exposure to heavy metals has been widely studied in recent years. Pregnant women are routinely screened for exposure to substances such as alcohol, tobacco, and certain illegal drugs, but there was no screening process for exposure to heavy metals until recently.
An August 2017 study published in the journal Pediatrics found that prenatal exposure to lead was significantly associated with ADHD, even at levels below what is currently considered “safe” by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
While scientists are still working to understand precisely how elevated metal levels lead to ADHD, there are several possible explanations. The most obvious is that metals disrupt the brain’s ability to function correctly by interfering with neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, which are responsible for attention span. That interference can occur even before birth if a mother has elevated levels of heavy metals in her system during pregnancy or if she absorbs them through her diet (exposure to certain types of fish has been linked to increased mental levels).
Maternal intake of certain metals during pregnancy has also affected the baby’s metabolism, including lead. Children exposed to lead before birth are at greater risk for lower IQs and developmental problems later in life. Other possible explanations include oxidative stress (a condition where the body can’t correctly detoxify itself) and disruptions in thyroid hormones.
The study found that children with prenatal lead exposure had more than twice as many ADHD symptoms, including hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention. While this doesn’t mean that all ADHD cases are caused by exposure to heavy metals (only 8%-9% of all cases fall into this category), it does mean that children with ADHD should be routinely screened for exposure to heavy metals.
The discovery has enormous implications for both immediate and long-term treatment of ADHD, as doctors can identify and begin treating patients much earlier than previously possible. This reduces the need for expensive follow-up treatments like therapy or medication and lessens the number of misdiagnoses or incorrect medication prescriptions.
It’s important to remember that heavy metal exposure is only one possible cause of ADHD, so it should never be used as a stand-alone diagnosis. Screening can allow physicians to catch confounding factors, allowing them to determine the most effective course of treatment for patients.
In the longer run, new technology may also be developed based on these findings. Scientists may design neuroprotective drugs that can help mitigate some of ADHD’s worst symptoms with a precise understanding of how metal levels affect metabolic pathways in the brain.
Although research is still ongoing into exactly how metals affect the brain and their further implications for neurological health, scientists have shown that greater prenatal exposure to lead is significantly correlated with increased ADHD symptoms in children. This discovery could prove instrumental in allowing physicians to diagnose and treat mental illness more accurately.
Well, that was interesting
If you’ll excuse me, I’m taking my autism and my ADHD and my OCPD and I’m stepping outside to explore…