Tobacco and Lead Exposure Associated with ADHD

Posted on 03 Dec 2009 in Special Education, Student Behavior | Comments Off on Tobacco and Lead Exposure Associated with ADHD

Yesterday, I blogged with skepticism about the association between smoking during pregnancy and ADHD based on one research study. But today, I find myself staring at another research study with similar findings. I found this report in a tweet about a blog posted today by Education Week (a leader in education news).

Significant News

According to the Education week blog, research done at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center found that:

Children exposed prenatally to tobacco, and those exposed to lead in childhood, have a higher risk of developing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

This research was published in the journal Pediatrics (PEDIATRICS Vol. 124 No. 6 December 2009, pp. e1054-e1063), a widely respected medical journal. The study examined over 2,500 children ages 8-15 and concluded that

A total of 8.7% of children met criteria for ADHD. Prenatal tobacco exposure and higher current blood lead concentrations were independently associated with ADHD. Compared with children with neither exposure, children with both exposures had an even greater risk of ADHD than would be expected if the independent risks were multiplied.


My questions from yesterday’s blog here at Mr.ChuckChuck still stand. Additionally, I ask:

  • What does this mean for us in education?
  • What does this mean for teachers working with students with ADHD or other behavioral problems?
  • It looks like in some cases, ADHD may be preventable. What will we do with this info?
  • Shouldn’t the number of students identified with ADHD be decreasing in America/Canada since we have eliminated lead from paint and other substances for many years and the nation trend seems to be that smoking is decreasing due to the number of restrictions being placed on smokers?
  • Shouldn’t ADHD be more prevalent in cultures with a high number of smokers? Is this the case?

Research and studies like this should definitely give smokers pause knowing that their behavior can directly lead to disabilities in others. This should also give non-smoking advocates more power and tenacity to further reduce the influence of cigarette and big tobacco companies knowing that their product can cause disabilities not only in the user of their product, but also in innocent by-standers. I wonder if we will see arguments in court using these studies anytime soon?

How do you feel about this issue?

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