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Environ Res. 2013 Oct;126:9-16. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2013.05.006. Epub 2013 Jun 20.

Relationship between blood manganese levels and children's attention, cognition, behavior, and academic performance--a nationwide cross-sectional study.

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Department of Psychiatry, Gangnam Eulji Hospital, Eulji University, Seoul, Republic of Korea; Suicide and School Mental Health Institute, Anyang, Republic of Korea.


Manganese (Mn) is neurotoxic at high concentrations. However, Mn is an essential element that can protect against oxidative damage; thus, extremely low levels of Mn might be harmful. Our aim was to examine whether either high or low environmental Mn exposure is related to academic and attention function development among school-aged children. This cross-sectional study included 1089 children 8-11 years of age living in five representative areas in South Korea. Blood Mn, blood lead, and urine cotinine were measured. We assessed IQ with the Wechsler Abbreviated Scale of Intelligence; attention with a computerized continuous performance test called the Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) Diagnostic System (ADS), the Korean version of the Stroop Color-Word Test, the Children's Color Trails Test (CCTT), and the ADHD Rating Scale; academic functions with the Learning Disability Evaluation Scale (LDES); and emotional and behavioral problems with the Korean version of the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL). We further assessed the presence of ADHD using a highly structured diagnostic interview, the Diagnostic Interview Schedule for Children Version IV (DISC-IV). The median blood concentration of Mn was 14.14 µg/L. We observed a nonlinear association between the CCTT2 completion time and the CPT commission error (F=3.14, p=0.03 and F=4.05, p=0.01, respectively). We divided the data into three groups: lower (<8.154 µg/L), and upper 5th percentile (>21.453 µg/L) and middle 90th percentile to determine whether a lack or overload of Mn could cause adverse effects. After adjusting for urine cotinine, blood lead, children's IQ, and other potential confounders, the high Mn group showed lower scores in thinking (B=-0.83, p=0.006), reading (B=-0.93, p=0.004), calculations (B=-0.72, p=0.005), and LQ (B=-4.06, p=0.006) in the LDES and a higher commission error in the CPT (B=8.02, p=0.048). The low Mn group showed lower color scores in the Stroop test (B=-3.24, p=0.040). We found that excess Mn in children is associated with lower scores of thinking, reading, calculation, and LQ in the LDES and higher scores of commission error in the ADS test. In contrast, lower Mn in children is associated with lower color scores in the Stroop test. The findings of this cross-sectional study suggest that excess exposure or deficiency of Mn can cause harmful effects in children.


Academic function; Attention; Children; Manganese

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