Don’t let your Children Get Hit Twice

Multiple studies link life stressors (adverse childhood events) with later adult health diseases. Multiple studies are linking environmental toxins during childhood with adult diseases.  This study combined the two factors to determine if the effects were additive or synergistic.  In other words, did they just add 1 + 1 to equal 2 or do the “two hits” of toxins and stressors lead to a 1 + 1 equaling 3 situation.  In this case, the two hits increased ADHD symptoms in children more than simple addition.

We should discern whether this research was quality or just a bunch of hype by looking at the study design.  We obviously cannot do a double-blind placebo study in children exposing some to pollution and some to life stressors to see what happens over 10-15 years.  In this case, they followed a group of children by surveying their parents on possible psychosocial stressors, and later any psychiatric ADHD symptoms.  To determine levels of toxic exposures, they measured the mother’s levels of PAH-DNA adducts at birth of the child (polyaromatic hydrocarbons attached to DNA reflecting genetic damage).   This is probably as good as it gets to look for links in this observational study.  Those with high stressors and higher toxin exposures demonstrated higher reports of ADHD symptoms.

Such links between psychological factors and chemical toxins does not surprise a functional MD like myself.  We see connections between stress and mold toxicity every week in our patients.  For the sake of our next generation we need to look at how to minimize the effects of both psychosocial factors and environmental toxins.  Only then can we hope to see our communities live healthier more abundant lives together.


Original Article:

David Pagliaccio, Julie B. Herbstman, Frederica Perera, Deliang Tang, Jeff Goldsmith, Bradley S. Peterson, Virginia Rauh, Amy E. Margolis. Prenatal exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons modifies the effects of early life stress on attention and Thought Problems in late childhood. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 2020; DOI: 10.1111/jcpp.13189


Thanks to Science Daily

Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. “Mix of stress and air pollution may lead to cognitive difficulties in children.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 January 2020. <>.





Sanctuary Functional Medicine, under the direction of Dr Eric Potter, IFMCP MD, provides functional medicine services to Nashville, Middle Tennessee and beyond. We frequently treat patients from Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Ohio, Indiana, and more... offering the hope of healthier more abundant lives to those with chronic illness.

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