Iron and ADHD: Time to Move Beyond Serum Ferritin Levels

Renato Donfrancesco, Pasquale Parisi, Nicola Vanacore, Francesca Martines, Vittorio Sargentini, Samuele Cortese

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: (a) To compare serum ferritin levels in a sample of stimulant-naïve children with ADHD and matched controls and (b) to assess the association of serum ferritin to ADHD symptoms severity, ADHD subtypes, and IQ. Method: The ADHD and the control groups included 101 and 93 children, respectively. Serum ferritin levels were determined with the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay method. Results: Serum ferritin did not significantly differ between children with ADHD and controls, as well as among ADHD subtypes. Correlations between serum ferritin levels and measures related to IQ or ADHD severity were not significant. Conclusion: This is the largest controlled study that assessed ferritin levels in stimulant-naïve ADHD children. The findings of this study do not support a significant relationship between serum ferritin levels and ADHD. However, the authors' results based on peripheral measures of iron do not rule out a possible implication of brain iron deficiency in ADHD, grounded on neurobiological hypotheses and preliminary empirical evidence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)347-357
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Attention Disorders
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - May 2013


  • ADHD
  • ferritin
  • iron

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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