23 November 2009

Plastics chemicals linked to ADHD symptoms

by Kate Melville

Adding to concerns that phthalates are feminizing boys' brains and causing genital deformities, Korean scientists say they now have evidence linking attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms to the ubiquitous chemicals. Phthalates are widely used chemical components of many consumer products, including toys, cleaning materials, plastics, and personal care items.

Now, a new report published in Biological Psychiatry, adds to the alarming findings about these ubiquitous chemicals. Korean scientists measured urine phthalate concentrations and evaluated symptoms of ADHD using teacher-reported symptoms and computer-based tests that measured attention and impulsivity.

The researchers found a significant correlation between phthalate exposure and ADHD, meaning that the higher the concentration of phthalate metabolites in the urine, the worse the ADHD symptoms. "These data represent the first documented association between phthalate exposure and ADHD symptoms in school-aged children," said the study's senior author Yun-Chul Hong.

The editor of Biological Psychiatry, John Krystal, noted that environmental exposure to phthalates may be contributing to behavioral and cognitive problems in children and both he and Hong said that more research was needed to explore the association. Hong also notes that although the study was performed with Korean subjects, levels of exposure are likely comparable to the U.S. population.

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Source: Biological Psychiatry