Department of Economics and Business Economics

Exposure to Manganese in Drinking Water during Childhood and Association with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: A Nationwide Cohort Study

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BACKGROUND: Manganese (Mn) in drinking water may increase the risk of several neurodevelopmental outcomes, including attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Earlier epidemiological studies on associations between Mn exposure and ADHD-related outcomes had small sample sizes, lacked spatiotemporal exposure assessment, and relied on questionnaire data (not diagnoses)-shortcomings that we address here.

OBJECTIVE: Our objective was to assess the association between exposure to Mn in drinking water during childhood and later development of ADHD.

METHODS: In a nationwide population-based registry study in Denmark, we followed a cohort of 643,401 children born 1992-2007 for clinical diagnoses of ADHD. In subanalyses, we classified cases into ADHD-Inattentive and ADHD-Combined subtypes based on hierarchical categorization of International Classification of Diseases (ICD)-10 codes. We obtained Mn measurements from 82,574 drinking water samples to estimate longitudinal exposure during the first 5 y of life with high spatiotemporal resolution. We modeled exposure as both peak concentration and time-weighted average. We estimated sex-specific hazard ratios (HRs) in Cox proportional hazards models adjusted for age, birth year, socioeconomic status (SES), and urbanicity.

RESULTS: We found that exposure to increasing levels of Mn in drinking water was associated with an increased risk of ADHD-Inattentive subtype, but not ADHD-Combined subtype. After adjusting for age, birth year, and SES, females exposed to high levels of Mn (i.e., > 100 μ g / L ) at least once during their first 5 y of life had an HR for ADHD-Inattentive subtype of 1.51 [95% confidence interval (CI): 1.18, 1.93] and males of 1.20 (95% CI: 1.01, 1.42) when compared with same-sex individuals exposed to < 5 μ g / L . When modeling exposure as a time-weighted average, sex differences were no longer present.

DISCUSSION: Mn in drinking water was associated with ADHD, specifically the ADHD-Inattentive subtype. Our results support earlier studies suggesting a need for a formal health-based drinking water guideline value for Mn. Future Mn-studies should examine ADHD subtype-specific associations and utilize direct subtype measurements rather than relying on ICD-10 codes alone. https://doi.org/10.1289/EHP6391.

Original languageEnglish
Article number97004
JournalEnvironmental Health Perspectives
Volume128
Issue9
Number of pages10
ISSN0091-6765
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2020

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