Hair Mineral Test - Research

Attention Deficit Disorder

Hyperactivity in children has been an enigma for several generations. In recent years, with increased studies, hyperactivity has been placed in a sub-category of Attention Deficit Disorders (ADD).

Currently, the psychological/medical approach has been the major technique used to diagnose and treat these behavioral disorders. However, when there have been positive results, they were empirical with little understanding of the underlying mechanism contributing to the syndrome, or its successful treatment.

Toxic Metals Accumulation

Recent research and studies strongly suggest that biochemical factors do play a major role in many cases of hyperactivity. In addition, there is increasing evidence that heavy toxic metals such as lead, mercury, cadmium, and copper may contribute to behavioural disturbances in some children. An increasing number of studies have related data obtained from tissue mineral analysis (TMA) to ADD.

Dr. Richard Malter, a clinical psychologist, has for some years been studying the implication of heavy toxic metals accumulation on brain function in children with ADD. His work has been based on the TMA profiles of several hundred children seen in a child development clinic. These studies indicated that most cases of ADD have significant toxic metal tissue burdens as a contributing factor to the condition.

It is strongly suggested by his hypothesis that, over several generations, the population of children in each succeeding generation will have increasing number of ADD children as the toxic metal accumulated and are transmitted in the uterus. During the course of a pregnancy for example, when a severe stress occurs, a woman's body will tend to release toxic metals from her own cells and tissues into the blood stream to eliminate from the body. However, some of these released toxic metals can cross the placenta into the fetus. Depending on how toxic and how stressed the mother is, the fetus maybe born with a very heavy load of toxic metals affecting neuro-muscular, and neuro-endocrine functions.

"Most cases of ADD have significant Toxic Metal Tissue Burdens as a contributing factor to the conditions".

This trans-generational change is accelerated by several other environmental events, which have occurred since the end of World War II. These events have had a particularly strong effect on copper accumulations to toxic levels in many people. Copper is an essential nutrient mineral, but in excess accumulation, it can become very toxic to the neuro-psychological-endocrine system. Substantial elevations of tissue copper are commonly found in many ADD children along with significant deviations in ratios between essential nutrient minerals, such as, Ca/Mg, Na/K, and Zn/Cu.

One major environmental development involved the introduction of copper water pipes into homes, office, apartments and schools. The expanded use of water softeners with these copper plumbing systems increased the leeching of copper into drinking and cooking water consumed by people. Another adverse environmental factor contributing to increased copper toxicity from one generation to another was the introduction of the birth control pill with its oestrogen production. Oestrogen tends to increase copper accumulation in the body's cells and tissues.

The addition of tissue mineral analysis (TMA) to the diagnostic assessment and treatment of children with ADD will help to provide a more comprehensive database for understanding the metabolic problems of these children. The role of nutritional factor and toxic metal accumulation also will become much clearer. TMA may provide the biological markers which, so far, have been absent with medication treatment. Changes in a child's hair mineral profile can be monitored over time along with changes in behaviour observations and ratings. This should result in much more effective help for the ADD child and family.

Other research appears to confirm these findings. R.W.Tuthill, published hair lead levels in relation to children's classroom attention-deficit behaviour (Arch Environ Health 1996; 51:3). He indicated that lead exposure is a more profound problem for an infant or young child than for an adult. Given a child's smaller body size, what would be a minor intake of lead for an adult result in a much greater dose per kg of body weight for a child. In addition, children absorb a greater proportion of ingested lead than adults do. Finally, the young child's lead clearance mechanisms are not well developed, and body concentrations of lead build-up more readily.

"Scalp hair should be considered a useful clinical and epidemiological approach for the measurement of chronic low-lead exposure in children"

The hair lead/classroom attention-deficit behaviour relationship found in Tuthill's study is consistent, but is stronger than, the lead/attention-deficit associations reported by others using dentine lead, whole-tooth lead, or blood lead levels. He found a strong relationship existed between physician-diagnosed attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and hair lead in the same children and that, scalp hair should be considered a useful clinical and epidemiological approach for the measurement of chronic low-lead exposure in children.

Hyperactivity can be characterised by one or a combination of some of the following:-

  • Head-knocking
  • Inability to finish task
  • Lack of concentration
  • Difficulty solving problems or manage time.
  • A tendency to disturb other children
  • Low tolerance for stress and otherwise ordinary problems
  • Self-destructive behaviour.
  • Learning disabilities.
  • Emotional instability; daily or hourly mood swings
  • A tendency to become frustrated quickly
  • Disorders of speech and hearing
  • An inability to sit still for any length of time, even at mealtimes.
  • Temper tantrums
  • Clumsiness.
  • Impatience; difficulty waiting
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Extreme distractibility
  • Failure in school despite average or above intelligence
  • Forgetfulness.
  • Absentmindedness

Not all symptoms are present in any one individual. Although hyperactivity is primarily a problem of childhood, adults can be affected, too. 

1. Malter, R. Attention Deficit Disorder - A New hypothesis. TEI Newsletter 1992 5:2. 
2. Tuthill, R.W. Hair Lead levels Related to Children's Classroom Attention-Deficit Behavior. Arch Environ Health 1996; 51:3