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Heavy metals are, unfortunately, present in our air, water, soil, and food supply as a byproduct of our industrialized society. In fact, contamination is so pervasive in our environment that it is no longer a question of whether one has been exposed to toxins, but rather the level of exposure .Exposure to Lead and Manganese resulting in elevated levels in children is becoming increasingly highlighted in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Autism.
The aim of this work was to determine the level of blood Lead and blood Manganese in patients with ADHD and Autism and correlation of these levels to different environmental risk factors.
This case control study was conducted on a total of 100 children, 37 children previously diagnosed as ADHD 33 children with Autism along with 30 children as control group. A questionnaire was fulfilled by parents asking about environmental risk factor as well as laboratory investigations to determine blood levels of Lead and Manganese. Analysis was done using graphite furnace atomic absorption. Statistical analysis was performed using SPSS (Statistical Package for Social Sciences) version 12.
Results revealed a higher percentage of high blood Lead levels applying past (10 μg/dl) and very recent (≥5 μg/dl) cut of values in ADHD and Autistic children compared to controls and the difference was statistically significant ( P=0.01 and P=0.003respectively).
Results also revealed a higher percentage of high blood Manganese level (≥ 15 μg/l) in ADHD and Autistic children compared to controls and the difference is highly significant statistically (P=0.009) Statistical analysis revealed a significant elevated mean blood Lead level (ADHD 8.7 μg/dl ± 3.6 SD, Autism 7.4 μg/dl ± 4.2 SD, Control 5.5 μg/dl ± 2.0 SD, P=0.002), and mean blood Manganese level (ADHD 13.3 μg/l ± 6.6 SD, Autism 10.7μg/l ± 6.3 SD, Control 8.8μg/l ± 2.8 SD, P=0.007), in children with ADHD and Autism versus the control group (P<0.01).
The type of feeding (during infancy) of 62 children from the three groups was correlated to their blood Manganese levels and results showed that there is a higher percentage of blood Manganese levels amongst patients and control who have been formula feed compared to subjects who have been breastfeed and the difference is statistically significant (P=0.05).
Results revealed a higher percentage of high blood Manganese levels among subjects with smoking family member compared to subjects with no smoking family member and the difference is statistically significant.
The results of the present study revealed that 1 out of 37 (2.7%) children in the ADHD group had both high blood Lead and blood Manganese while 2 out of 33 (6.1%) children of the Autism group had the same finding.
The study concluded that statistically significant higher blood level of Lead and Manganese was found in patients with ADHD and Autism versus control. The results reflect an alarming level of blood Lead in all children including controls if the most recent level of 5μg/dl is taken as a limit of alert.