Toxoplasma gondii Exposure and the Risk of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in Children and Adolescents


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Abstract

Background:Evidence suggests that Toxoplasma gondii, which causes toxoplasmosis, changes the metabolism of neurotransmitters, especially dopamine, resulting in both neurologic and psychiatric disorders. On the other hand, the dysregulation of catecholamines, especially of both norepinephrine and dopamine, has been proposed in the pathophysiology of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The aim of the present study was to investigate anti-toxoplasma antibodies in children and adolescents with ADHD and compare it with a control group, to determine whether toxoplasmosis is a risk factor for ADHD.Methods:A total of 200 children and adolescents (117 patients with ADHD and 83 individuals without ADHD) participated in the study. Participants were tested for the presence of anti-T. gondii antibodies by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. A Parent ADHD Rating Scale and Clinical Global Impression-severity Scale were also completed. Data were analyzed using a χ2 test and Fisher exact test.Results:Anti-toxoplasma antibodies were detected in 18.1% of patients with ADHD disorder and 24% of individuals without ADHD. There was no significant difference in seropositivity between the 2 groups (P > 0.05). The number of patients with T. gondii infection in the 3 subgroups was 0, 9 and 12, respectively. The differences in infection rate among subgroups were not statistically significant (P > 0.05).Conclusion:Although not conclusive, the present study does not support the theory that T. gondii is a risk factor for ADHD.

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