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PLoS One. 2015 Aug 19;10(8):e0133525. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0133525. eCollection 2015.

Glyphosate Use Predicts ADHD Hospital Discharges in the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project Net (HCUPnet): A Two-Way Fixed-Effects Analysis.

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  • 1Institute of Health and Environmental Research (IHER), Cleveland, Ohio, 44118 United States of America; Graduate School, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, 43210, United States of America.
  • 2Institute of Health and Environmental Research (IHER), Cleveland, Ohio, 44118 United States of America; Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Cleveland, Ohio, 44106, United States of America.

Abstract

There has been considerable international study on the etiology of rising mental disorders, such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), in human populations. As glyphosate is the most commonly used herbicide in the world, we sought to test the hypothesis that glyphosate use in agriculture may be a contributing environmental factor to the rise of ADHD in human populations. State estimates for glyphosate use and nitrogen fertilizer use were obtained from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). We queried the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project net (HCUPNET) for state-level hospitalization discharge data in all patients for all-listed ADHD from 2007 to 2010. We used rural-urban continuum codes from the USDA-Economic Research Service when exploring the effect of urbanization on the relationship between herbicide use and ADHD. Least squares dummy variable (LSDV) method and within method using two-way fixed effects was used to elucidate the relationship between glyphosate use and all-listed ADHD hospital discharges. We show that a one kilogram increase in glyphosate use, in particular, in one year significantly positively predicts state-level all-listed ADHD discharges, expressed as a percent of total mental disorders, the following year (coefficient = 5.54E-08, p<.01). A study on the effect of urbanization on the relationship between glyphosate and ADHD indicates that the relationship is marginally significantly positive after multiple comparison correction only in urban U.S. counties (p<.025). Furthermore, total glyphosate use is strongly positively associated with total farm use of nitrogen fertilizers from 1992 to 2006 (p<.001). We present evidence from the biomedical research literature of a plausible link among glyphosate, nitrogen dysbiosis and ADHD. Glyphosate use is a significant predictor of state hospitalizations for all-listed ADHD hospital discharges, with the effect concentrated in urban U.S. counties. This effect is seen even after controlling for individual state characteristics, strong correlations over time, and other significant associations with ADHD in the literature. We draw upon the econometric results to propose unique mechanisms, borrowing principles from soil and atmospheric sciences, for how glyphosate-based herbicides may be contributing to the rise of ADHD in all populations.

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