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Low blood lead levels and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder in children: a systematic review and meta-analysis

He, Jianjun, Ning, Huacheng, Huang, Ruixue
Environmental science and pollution research international 2019 v.26 no.18 pp. 17875-17884
blood, case-control studies, children, computer software, confidence interval, databases, etiology, lead, meta-analysis, models, systematic review
Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) of children is one of the most common neurodevelopmental diseases; the etiology remains unclear. We reviewed and meta-analyzed case-control studies to assess the effects of blood lead levels in children on ADHD symptoms. Relevant studies were identified by searching electronic databases. A meta-analysis was performed using the fixed model of Review Manager 5.3 software. Seven relevant studies were identified. The case groups exhibited significant increases in ADHD symptoms [mean difference (MD), 0.59; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.50–0.68; p < 0.0001]. Subgroup assessment showed that even children with blood lead levels <3 μg/dL exhibited significant increases in ADHD symptoms (MD, 0.47; 95% CI, 0.39–0.56; p < 0.0001). Subgroup assessment also showed that children aged 5–12 years exhibited more significant increases in ADHD symptoms (MD, 1.35; 95% CI, 0.28–2.41; p < 0.0001) than children aged >12 years. Our findings suggest that low blood lead levels may be associated with ADHD symptoms in children. However, caution is needed when interpreting the results because among-study heterogeneity was in play. Primary interventions should focus on children with low blood lead levels.