Association between urine cotinine levels, continuous performance test variables, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and learning disability symptoms in school-aged children

S. C. Cho, Y. C. Hong, J. W. Kim, S. Park, M. H. Park, J. Hur, E. J. Park, S. B. Hong, J. H. Lee, M. S. Shin, B. N. Kim, H. J. Yoo, I. H. Cho, S. Y. Bhang, S. K. Han

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

14 Scopus citations


Background We examined the cross-sectional relationship between environmental tobacco smoke exposure, continuous performance test (CPT) measures, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or learning disability symptoms in school-aged children. Method In total, 989 children (526 boys, mean age 9.1 ± 0.7 years), recruited from five South Korean cities participated in this study. We used urine cotinine as a biomarker for environmental tobacco smoke exposure, and obtained the children's scores on a CPT. Parents completed the Korean versions of the ADHD Rating Scale-IV (ADHD-RS) and Learning Disability Evaluation Scale (LDES). Using generalized linear mixed model (GLMM), we assessed the associations between urine cotinine concentrations, neuropsychological variables, and symptoms of ADHD and learning disabilities. Additionally, we conducted structural equation models to explore the effects' pathways. Results After adjusting for a range of relevant covariates, GLMM showed urinary cotinine levels were significantly and positively associated with CPT scores on omission errors, commission errors, response time, and response time variability, and with parent-and teacher-rated ADHD-RS scores. In addition, urine cotinine levels were negatively associated with LDES scores on spelling and mathematical calculations. The structural equation model revealed that CPT variables mediated the association between urine cotinine levels and parental reports of symptoms of ADHD and learning disabilities. Conclusions Our data indicate that environmental exposure to tobacco smoke is associated with ADHD and learning disabilities in children, and that impairments in attention and inhibitory control probably mediate the effect.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)209-219
Number of pages11
JournalPsychological medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2013


  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • children
  • cognition
  • environmental health
  • learning disability
  • smoking

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