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Reference Gestational exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals and reciprocal social, repetitive, and stereotypic behaviors in 4- and 5-year-old children: the HOME study.

Authors Braun JM, Kalkbrenner AE, Just AC, Yolton K, Calafat AM, Sjödin A, Hauser R, Webster GM, Chen A, Lanphear BP.
Institution Department of Epidemiology, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, USA.
Citation Environ Health Perspect. 2014 May;122(5):513-20.
DOI ID 10.1289/ehp.1307261
PubMed® ID 24622245
Review Status Is curated Curated.
Abstract BACKGROUND: Endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) may be involved in the etiology of autism spectrum disorders, but identifying relevant chemicals within mixtures of EDCs is difficult.

OBJECTIVE: Our goal was to identify gestational EDC exposures associated with autistic behaviors.

METHODS: We measured the concentrations of 8 phthalate metabolites, bisphenol A, 25 polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), 6 organochlorine pesticides, 8 brominated flame retardants, and 4 perfluoroalkyl substances in blood or urine samples from 175 pregnant women in the HOME (Health Outcomes and Measures of the Environment) Study (Cincinnati, OH). When children were 4 and 5 years old, mothers completed the Social Responsiveness Scale (SRS), a measure of autistic behaviors. We examined confounder-adjusted associations between 52 EDCs and SRS scores using a two-stage hierarchical analysis to account for repeated measures and confounding by correlated EDCs.

RESULTS: Most of the EDCs were associated with negligible absolute differences in SRS scores (≤ 1.5). Each 2-SD increase in serum concentrations of polybrominated diphenyl ether-28 (PBDE-28) (β = 2.5; 95% CI: -0.6, 5.6) or trans-nonachlor (β = 4.1; 95% CI: 0.8-7.3) was associated with more autistic behaviors. In contrast, fewer autistic behaviors were observed among children born to women with detectable versus nondetectable concentrations of PCB-178 (β = -3.0; 95% CI: -6.3, 0.2), β-hexachlorocyclohexane (β = -3.3; 95% CI: -6.1, -0.5), or PBDE-85 (β = -3.2; 95% CI: -5.9, -0.5). Increasing perfluorooctanoate (PFOA) concentrations were also associated with fewer autistic behaviors (β = -2.0; 95% CI: -4.4, 0.4).

CONCLUSIONS: Some EDCs were associated with autistic behaviors in this cohort, but our modest sample size precludes us from dismissing chemicals with null associations. PFOA, β-hexachlorocyclohexane, PCB-178, PBDE-28, PBDE-85, and trans-nonachlor deserve additional scrutiny as factors that may be associated with childhood autistic behaviors.