Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 49, Issue 1, pp 173–184 | Cite as

Cord and Early Childhood Plasma Adiponectin Levels and Autism Risk: A Prospective Birth Cohort Study

  • Ramkripa Raghavan
  • M. Daniele Fallin
  • Xiumei Hong
  • Guoying Wang
  • Yuelong Ji
  • Elizabeth A. Stuart
  • David Paige
  • Xiaobin WangEmail author
Original Paper


Emerging research suggests that adiponectin, a cytokine produced by adipose tissue, may be implicated in ASD. In this prospective birth cohort study (n = 847), we assessed the association between cord, early childhood plasma adiponectin and the risk of developing ASD. ASD was defined based on ICD codes of physician diagnosis. Cord adiponectin levels were inversely associated with ASD risk (aOR 0.50; 95% CI 0.33, 0.77), independent of preterm birth, early childhood adiponectin and other known ASD risk factors. Early childhood adiponectin, assessed prior to ASD diagnosis, was associated with lower risk of ASD, which attenuated after adjusting for cord adiponectin, indicating the relative importance of cord adiponectin in ASD risk. Further research is warranted to confirm our findings and elucidate biological mechanisms.


Autism Adiponectin Preterm birth Cytokines 


Author Contributions

XW is the principal investigator of the Boston Birth Cohort, initiated the Boston Birth Cohort, oversaw subject recruitment, follow-up, and data collection, conceptualized the study and provided critical inputs on the study design, data analyses, interpretation of data, initial draft and revision of the manuscript. RR conceptualized and designed the study, assumed primary responsibility for data cleaning and statistical analyses, and drafted and revised this manuscript. MDR, YJ, EAS, and DP provided critical inputs on the study design, data analyses, interpretation of data and revision of the manuscript. XH and GW coordinated subject recruitment and follow-up, collected data, and critically reviewed the manuscript.


This study is supported in part by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under grant number R40MC27443, Autism Field-initiated Innovative Research Studies Program; and grant number UJ2MC31074, Autism Single Investigator Innovation Program. This information or content and conclusions are those of the author and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government. The Boston Birth Cohort (the parent study) was supported in part by the March of Dimes PERI grants (20-FY02-56, #21-FY07-605); and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants (R21ES011666, R01HD041702, R21HD066471, U01AI090727, R21AI079872, and R01HD086013). Ramkripa Raghavan is supported by John and Alice Chenoweth-Pate Fellowship in her current training.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

None of the authors have a conflict of interest pertaining to this work.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Supplementary material

10803_2018_3688_MOESM1_ESM.docx (870 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 869 KB)


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center on the Early Life Origins of Disease, Department of Population, Family and Reproductive HealthJohns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public HealthBaltimoreUSA
  2. 2.Wendy Klag Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities & Department of Mental HealthJohns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public HealthBaltimoreUSA
  3. 3.Department of BiostatisticsJohns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public HealthBaltimoreUSA
  4. 4.Department of Population, Family and Reproductive HealthJohns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public HealthBaltimoreUSA
  5. 5.Department of PediatricsJohns Hopkins University School of MedicineBaltimoreUSA

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