Rosi, E., Crippa, A., Pozzi, M., De Francesco, S., Fioravanti, M., Mauri, M., Molteni, M., Morello, L., Tosti, L., Metruccio, F., Clementi, E., & Nobile, M. (2023). Exposure to environmental pollutants and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: an overview of systematic reviews and meta-analyses – Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 1-17


Although heritability estimates suggest a role for genetic components, environmental risk factors have been described as relevant in the etiology of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Several studies have investigated the role of toxicological pollution, i.e., air pollution, heavy metals, POPs, and phthalates. Clear evidence for association of ADHD and environmental factors has not been provided yet. To answer this, we have assessed all available systematic reviews and meta-analyses that focused on the association between pollutant exposure and either ADHD diagnosis or symptoms. More than 1800 studies were screened of which 14 found eligible. We found evidence of a significant role for some pollutants, in particular heavy metals and phthalates, in the increased risk of developing ADHD symptoms. However, at the current stage, data from existing literature also do not allow to weight the role of the different environmental pollutants. We also offer a critical examination of the reviews/meta-analyses and provide indications for future studies in this field. PROSPERO registration: CRD42022341496