Gestational Exposure to Phthalates and Social Responsiveness Scores in Children Using Quantile Regression: The EARLI and HOME Studies


Linear regression is often used to estimate associations between chemical exposures and neurodevelopment at the mean of the outcome. However, the potential effect of chemicals may be greater among individuals at the ‘tails’ of outcome distributions. Here, we investigated distributional effects on the associations between gestational phthalate exposure and child Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)-related behaviors using quantile regression. We harmonized data from the Early Autism Risk Longitudinal Investigation (EARLI) (n = 140) Study, an enriched-risk cohort of mothers who had a child with ASD, and the Health Outcomes and Measures of the Environment (HOME) Study (n = 276), a general population cohort. We measured concentrations of 9 phthalate metabolites in urine samples collected twice during pregnancy. Caregivers reported children’s ASD-related behaviors using the Social Responsiveness Scale (SRS) at age 3-8 years; higher scores indicate more ASD-related behaviors. In EARLI, associations between phthalate concentrations and SRS scores were predominately inverse or null across SRS score quantiles. In HOME, positive associations of mono-n-butyl phthalate, monobenzyl phthalate, mono-isobutyl phthalate, and di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate concentrations with SRS scores increased in strength from the median to 95th percentile of SRS scores. These results suggest associations between phthalate concentrations and SRS scores may be stronger in individuals with higher SRS scores.

Authors: Marisa A Patti, Craig Newschaffer, Melissa Eliot, Ghassan B Hamra, Aimin Chen, Lisa A Croen, M Daniele Fallin, Irva Hertz-Picciotto, Geetika Kalloo, Jane C Khoury, Bruce P Lanphear, Kristen Lyall, Kimberly Yolton, Joseph M Braun
; Full Source: International journal of environmental research and public health 2021 Jan 30;18(3):1254. doi: 10.3390/ijerph18031254.