Biological Trace Element Research

, Volume 187, Issue 2, pp 376–382 | Cite as

Blood Levels of Trace Elements in Children with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: Results from a Case-Control Study

  • Rongwang YangEmail author
  • Yanyi Zhang
  • Weijia Gao
  • Nannan Lin
  • Rong Li
  • Zhengyan Zhao


Some trace elements may participate in the pathogenesis of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). This study aimed to investigate the trace element status of zinc (Zn), copper (Cu), iron (Fe), magnesium (Mg), and lead (Pb) in children with ADHD, and to compare them with normal controls. Associations between examined elements and SNAP-IV rating scores of ADHD symptoms were also assessed. Four hundred nineteen children with ADHD (8.8 ± 2.1 years) and 395 matched normal controls (8.9 ± 1.7 years) were recruited in the study. The concentrations of Zn, Fe, Cu, Mg, and Pb in the whole blood were measured by atomic absorption spectrometry. Lower zinc levels (P < 0.001) and the number out of normal ranges (P = 0.015) were found in children with ADHD when compared with the normal control group. The difference remained when adjusting the factor of BMI z-score. No significant between-group differences were found in levels of other elements. Zinc levels were negatively correlated with parent-rated scores of inattentive subscale of SNAP-IV (r = − 0.40) as well as with total score of SNAP-IV (r = − 0.24). Other significant associations were not observed. The present results indicated that there were alterations in blood levels of zinc, which was associated with the symptom scores of ADHD.


Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) Trace element Zinc BMI z-score 



We thank the children and their parents to participate our study. We also thank Miss Lili Yang for her copyediting our manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

The study protocol was approved by the Institutional Review Board of the Children’s Hospital, Zhejiang University School of Medicine.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Child Psychology, The Children’s HospitalZhejiang University School of MedicineHangzhouChina
  2. 2.Department of Child Health Care, The Children’s HospitalZhejiang University School of MedicineHangzhouChina

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