Autism spectrum disorder prevalence and associations with air concentrations of lead, mercury, and arsenic

  • Aisha S. Dickerson
  • Mohammad H. Rahbar
  • Amanda V. Bakian
  • Deborah A. Bilder
  • Rebecca A. Harrington
  • Sydney Pettygrove
  • Russell S. Kirby
  • Maureen S. Durkin
  • Inkyu Han
  • Lemuel A. MoyéIII
  • Deborah A. Pearson
  • Martha Slay Wingate
  • Walter M. Zahorodny
Article

DOI: 10.1007/s10661-016-5405-1

Cite this article as:
Dickerson, A.S., Rahbar, M.H., Bakian, A.V. et al. Environ Monit Assess (2016) 188: 407. doi:10.1007/s10661-016-5405-1

Abstract

Lead, mercury, and arsenic are neurotoxicants with known effects on neurodevelopment. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder apparent by early childhood. Using data on 4486 children with ASD residing in 2489 census tracts in five sites of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network, we used multi-level negative binomial models to investigate if ambient lead, mercury, and arsenic concentrations, as measured by the US Environmental Protection Agency National-Scale Air Toxics Assessment (EPA-NATA), were associated with ASD prevalence. In unadjusted analyses, ambient metal concentrations were negatively associated with ASD prevalence. After adjusting for confounding factors, tracts with air concentrations of lead in the highest quartile had significantly higher ASD prevalence than tracts with lead concentrations in the lowest quartile (prevalence ratio (PR) = 1.36; 95 '% CI: 1.18, 1.57). In addition, tracts with mercury concentrations above the 75th percentile (>1.7 ng/m3) and arsenic concentrations below the 75th percentile (≤0.13 ng/m3) had a significantly higher ASD prevalence (adjusted RR = 1.20; 95 % CI: 1.03, 1.40) compared to tracts with arsenic, lead, and mercury concentrations below the 75th percentile. Our results suggest a possible association between ambient lead concentrations and ASD prevalence and demonstrate that exposure to multiple metals may have synergistic effects on ASD prevalence.

Keywords

Metals Autism spectrum disorder Environment Pollution Air quality 

Supplementary material

10661_2016_5405_MOESM1_ESM.docx (13 kb)
ESM 1(DOCX 13 kb)

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Aisha S. Dickerson
    • 1
  • Mohammad H. Rahbar
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Amanda V. Bakian
    • 4
  • Deborah A. Bilder
    • 4
  • Rebecca A. Harrington
    • 5
  • Sydney Pettygrove
    • 6
  • Russell S. Kirby
    • 7
  • Maureen S. Durkin
    • 8
  • Inkyu Han
    • 3
  • Lemuel A. MoyéIII
    • 9
  • Deborah A. Pearson
    • 10
  • Martha Slay Wingate
    • 11
  • Walter M. Zahorodny
    • 12
  1. 1.Biostatistics/Epidemiology/Research Design (BERD) Core, Center for Clinical and Translational Sciences (CCTS)University of Texas Health Science Center at HoustonHoustonUSA
  2. 2.Division of Clinical and Translational Sciences, Department of Internal MedicineMcGovern Medical School The University of Texas Health Science Center at HoustonHoustonUSA
  3. 3.Division of Epidemiology, Human Genetics, and Environmental Sciences (EHGES)University of Texas School of Public Health at Houston, University of Texas Health Science Center at HoustonHoustonUSA
  4. 4.Division of Child Psychiatry, Department of PsychiatryUniversity of Utah School of MedicineSalt Lake CityUSA
  5. 5.Department of EpidemiologyJohns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public HealthBaltimoreUSA
  6. 6.Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public HealthUniversity of ArizonaTucsonUSA
  7. 7.Department of Community and Family HealthCollege of Public Health, University of South FloridaTampaUSA
  8. 8.Waisman CenterUniversity of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public HealthMadisonUSA
  9. 9.Division of BiostatisticsUniversity of Texas School of Public Health at HoustonHoustonUSA
  10. 10.Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral SciencesUniversity of Texas Medical SchoolHoustonUSA
  11. 11.Department of Health Care Organization and PolicySchool of Public Health, University of Alabama at BirminghamBirminghamUSA
  12. 12.Department of PediatricsRutgers New Jersey Medical SchoolNewarkUSA