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Open AccessArticle

Assessing the Relation between Plasma PCB Concentrations and Elevated Autistic Behaviours using Bayesian Predictive Odds Ratios

1
Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC V5A 1S6, Canada
2
Population Studies Division, Environmental Health Science and Research Bureau, Healthy Environments and Consumer Safety Branch, Health Canada, Ottawa, ON K1A 0K9, Canada
3
Department of Epidemiology, Brown University, Providence, RI 02912, USA
4
École de psychologie, Université Laval, Québec, QC G1V 0A6, Canada
5
Department d’obstétrique et gynécologie, Université de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, QC J1H 5N4, Canada
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(3), 457; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16030457
Received: 12 October 2018 / Revised: 16 January 2019 / Accepted: 1 February 2019 / Published: 5 February 2019
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental condition characterized by impaired social communication and repetitive or stereotypic behaviours. In utero exposure to environmental chemicals, such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), may play a role in the etiology of ASD. We examined the relation between plasma PCB concentrations measured during pregnancy and autistic behaviours in a subset of children aged 3–4 years old in the Maternal-Infant Research on Environmental Chemicals (MIREC) Study, a pregnancy and birth cohort of 546 mother-infant pairs from Canada (enrolled: 2008–2011). We quantified the concentrations of 6 PCB congeners that were detected in >40% of plasma samples collected during the 1st trimester. At age 3–4 years, caregivers completed the Social Responsiveness Scale-2 (SRS), a valid and reliable measure of children’s reciprocal social and repetitive behaviours and restricted interests. We examined SRS scores as both a continuous and binary outcome, and we calculated Bayesian predictive odds ratios for more autistic behaviours based on a latent variable model for SRS scores >60. We found no evidence of an association between plasma PCB concentrations and autistic behaviour. However, we found small and imprecise increases in the mean SRS score and odds of more autistic behaviour for the highest category of plasma PCB concentrations compared with the lowest category; for instance, an average increase of 1.4 (95%PCI: −0.4, 3.2) in the mean SRS (exposure contrast highest versus lowest PCB category) for PCB138 translated to an odds ratio of 1.8 (95%PCI: 1.0, 2.9). Our findings illustrate the importance of measuring associations between PCBs and autistic behaviour on both continuous and binary scales. View Full-Text
Keywords: autism; polychlorinated biphenyls; environmental chemicals; children; neuro-development autism; polychlorinated biphenyls; environmental chemicals; children; neuro-development
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Bernardo, B.A.; Lanphear, B.P.; Venners, S.A.; Arbuckle, T.E.; Braun, J.M.; Muckle, G.; Fraser, W.D.; McCandless, L.C. Assessing the Relation between Plasma PCB Concentrations and Elevated Autistic Behaviours using Bayesian Predictive Odds Ratios. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16, 457.

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