Date of Conferral
Lead exposure during childhood is a significant global public health concern as the potential effects of exposure can result in the need for long-term treatment, diminished productivity in society, and financial strain on the health care system. There is strong evidence of a relationship between lead exposure and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD); however, there is a gap in the current literature regarding the relationship between lead exposure and specific symptoms of ADHD and the strength of that relationship. The purpose of this meta-analysis was to examine and help quantify this relationship. Cohen's d was used as the standardized mean effect size measure for this study, and allowed for comparison of 2 groups on a specific measure. For the final analysis 20 studies were included that provided a comparison between lead exposure and overall ADHD, inattentive, or hyperactive/impulsive symptoms. The magnitude of the effect size of childhood lead exposure on ADHD symptoms was significant and of medium strength. There was significant variability in the research results for inattentive and hyperactive/impulsive symptoms, and it was hypothesized that this variability may be due to factors related to lead levels and covariates known to affect ADHD symptoms. Study results may contribute to positive social change by providing health care practitioners with a greater understanding of the effect of childhood lead exposure on ADHD symptoms, which they may use to achieve advancements in prevention and treatment. Improved prevention programs for lead exposure and early identification and treatment of related concerns may decrease negative outcomes, as well as the occurrence of ADHD symptoms on a population level, thus improving public health.