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Report Says Nevada's Low ADHD Rate Could Be Linked To High Elevation

A new study from the University of Utah has found attention deficit hyperactivity disorder rates decrease substantially in states with higher elevations.

Nevada, which has an average elevation of 5,517 feet above sea level, had the lowest percentage of children with ADHD, at 5.6. Delaware, Louisiana, and states with an average elevation of less than 1,000 feet above sea level had the highest percentage of children diagnosed with ADHD, led by North Carolina's 15.6 percent. 

All of the Mountain West states, which have more than their share of mental illness and suicide rates but otherwise healthy residents, were well below average for the percentage of children diagnosed with ADHD.

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The report said one possible reason is that people at higher elevations are breathing air with less oxygen, which triggers the body to produce higher levels of dopamine. Since ADHD is associated with decreased dopamine, the risk for getting the disorder diminishes as the level of the hormone increases.


Jay Bartos joined Nevada Public Radio in 1993 to develop and manage the state’s first radio reading service for people unable to use standard printed material due to blindness or another disability. After the reading service was discontinued in 2011, he became the afternoon host on KNPR for ten years. Jay can now be heard on air on News 88.9 KNPR and Classical 89.7 KCNV throughout the week.