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Low Iron Levels May Contribute to ADHD

Children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) seem to have iron deficiency, according to the results of a small study. The researchers suggest that such kids may benefit from iron supplements.

Iron deficiency causes abnormal functioning of the brain neurotransmitter dopamine and may contribute to the pathology of ADHD.

Researchers measured iron levels in 53 children with ADHD and in a comparison group of 27 matched children who did not have ADHD. Ferritin levels in blood were used to assess iron stores in the body.

84% of the children with ADHD had abnormal ferritin levels compared with 18% of those who did not have ADHD. Extremely low serum ferritin levels were found in 32% of ADHD children but only one of the non-ADHD kids.

The researchers also saw that the lower the ferritin levels, the more severe were general ADHD symptoms, as well as specific mental deficits.

The researchers suggested that iron supplementation might improve dopamine activity in children with ADHD, thus decreasing the need for psychostimulants.

However, run out to the store to buy an iron supplement for your ADHD child. Your child needs to be evaluated by a physician and have a panel of blood tests before you can know whether iron supplementation is indicated. Giving an iron supplement when none is needed could be harmful.

If you think your child may have attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, please call one of our clinics for a consultation. We have a comprehensive protocol for treating ADHD that does not require the use of pharmaceuticals. We can fully evaluate whether your child needs iron, and give you the best dietary sources of iron, as well as the most appropriate type of iron supplement.

Source: Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, December 2004;158:1113-1115