Early childhood exposure to environmental phenols and parabens, phthalates, organophosphate pesticides, and trace elements in association with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms in the CHARGE study


Background A growing body of literature investigated childhood exposure to environmental chemicals in association with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms, but limited studies considered urinary mixtures of multiple chemical classes. This study examined associations of concurrent exposure to non-persistent chemicals with ADHD symptoms in children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), developmental delay, and typical development. Methods A total of 574 children aged 2-5 years from the Childhood Autism Risks from Genetics and Environment (CHARGE) case-control study was administered the Aberrant Behavior Checklist (ABC). This study focused on the Hyperactivity subscale and its two subdomains (hyperactivity/impulsivity, inattention). Sixty-two chemicals from four classes (phenols/parabens, phthalates, organophosphate pesticides, trace elements) were quantified in child urine samples, and 43 chemicals detected in > 70% samples were used in statistical analyses. Weighted quantile sum regression for negative binomial outcomes with repeated holdout validation was performed to investigate covariate-adjusted associations between mixtures and ABC scores in 574 children. The mixture analyses were further restricted to 232 children with ASD. Results Phthalate metabolite mixtures, weighted for mono-n-butylphthalate (MNBP), mono-2-heptyl phthalate, and mono-carboxy isononyl phthalate, were associated with the Hyperactivity subscale (mean incidence rate ratio [mIRR] = 1.11; 2.5th, 97.5th percentile: 1.00, 1.23), especially the hyperactivity/impulsivity subdomain (mIRR = 1.14; 2.5th, 97.5th percentile: 1.06, 1.26). These associations remained similar after restricting to children with ASD. The inattention subdomain was associated with a phenols/parabens mixture, weighted for several parabens and bisphenols (mIRR = 1.13; 2.5th, 97.5th percentile: 1.00, 1.28) and a total mixture, weighted for 3,4-dihydroxy benzoic acid, MNBP, and mono-(2-ethyl-5-carboxypentyl) phthalate (mIRR = 1.11; 2.5th, 97.5th percentile: 1.01, 1.25) only among children with ASD. Conclusions Concurrent exposure to phthalate mixtures was associated with hyperactivity in early childhood. Though causal inference cannot be made based on our cross-sectional findings, this study warrants further research on mixtures of larger number of chemicals from multiple classes in association with ADHD-related behaviors in young children.

Authors: Jiwon Oh, Kyoungmi Kim, Kurunthachalam Kannan, Patrick J Parsons, Agnieszka Mlodnicka, Rebecca J Schmidt, Julie B Schweitzer, Irva Hertz-Picciotto, Deborah H Bennett
; Full Source: Research square 2023 Feb 10;rs.3.rs-2565914. doi: 10.21203/rs.3.rs-2565914/v1.