Insecticide-ADHD link, with caveats

Gary Miller’s lab at Emory was the launching pad for this study from Rutgers, published last week in the FASEB Journal, showing a potential connection between a common type of insecticide used at home and in agriculture, pyrethroids, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). 

The evidence:

*Mice exposed to deltamethrin, in utero and before weaning, display changes in behavior and memory that look sorta like ADHD. The exposure levels were lower than the EPA’s developmental “no observable effect” limit. Deltamethrin appears to hit dopamine transporter function.

*NHANES data shows a connection between pyrethroid levels in the urine and ADHD diagnosis. Detectable pyrethroid metabolites meant the risk of ADHD diagnosis was up 2.3-fold.

The lead author from Rutgers, former Emory postdoc Jason Richardson, also recently published research on a connection between DTT and Alzheimer’s disease with Emory neurology researchers.

Some caveats:

*Mice ≠ humans.

*Much debate over over-diagnosis of ADHD and social/geographical influences on diagnosis. Slippery condition with multiple causes => watch out for “disease mongering”.

*Another study of pyrethroids and ADHD didn’t find a strong statistical connection.


Posted on by Quinn Eastman in Neuro Leave a comment

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Quinn Eastman

Science Writer, Research Communications 404-727-7829 Office

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