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Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2011 Oct;13(5):333-44. doi: 10.1007/s11920-011-0221-3.

Update on environmental risk factors for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

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Cincinnati Children's Hospital, Cincinnati, OH 45229, USA.


Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a prevalent neurobehavioral disorder affecting 5% to 10% of children. Although considered to be a highly familial disorder, ADHD heritability estimates of 60% to 80% highlight the considerable role that environmental factors may still play in disorder susceptibility. Proposed ADHD environmental risk factors include prenatal substance exposures, heavy metal and chemical exposures, nutritional factors, and lifestyle/psychosocial factors. This paper reviews the literature published in 2010 investigating the association between environmental risk factors and ADHD or related symptomatology. Sources of risk factor exposure and the proposed mechanism by which each exposure is linked to ADHD-related neurobehavioral changes are also reported. Methodologic limitations of the current literature are discussed, and guidelines for future study are proposed. An improved understanding of the role that environmental factors play in ADHD etiology is critical to future ADHD prevention efforts.

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