Residential Proximity to Freeways and Autism in the CHARGE Study

Department of Preventive Medicine, Zilkha Neurogenetic Institute, Keck School of Medicine, Children's Hospital Los Angeles, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California 90033, USA.
Environmental Health Perspectives (Impact Factor: 7.98). 12/2010; 119(6):873-7. DOI: 10.1289/ehp.1002835
Source: PubMed


Little is known about environmental causes and contributing factors for autism. Basic science and epidemiologic research suggest that oxidative stress and inflammation may play a role in disease development. Traffic-related air pollution, a common exposure with established effects on these pathways, contains substances found to have adverse prenatal effects.
We examined the association between autism and proximity of residence to freeways and major roadways during pregnancy and near the time of delivery, as a surrogate for air pollution exposure.
Data were from 304 autism cases and 259 typically developing controls enrolled in the Childhood Autism Risks from Genetics and the Environment (CHARGE) study. The mother's address recorded on the birth certificate and trimester-specific addresses derived from a residential history obtained by questionnaire were geocoded, and measures of distance to freeways and major roads were calculated using ArcGIS software. Logistic regression models compared residential proximity to freeways and major roads for autism cases and typically developing controls.
Adjusting for sociodemographic factors and maternal smoking, maternal residence at the time of delivery was more likely be near a freeway (≤ 309 m) for cases than for controls [odds ratio (OR)=1.86; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.04-3.45]. Autism was also associated with residential proximity to a freeway during the third trimester (OR=2.22; CI, 1.16-4.42). After adjustment for socioeconomic and sociodemographic characteristics, these associations were unchanged. Living near other major roads at birth was not associated with autism.
Living near a freeway was associated with autism. Examination of associations with measured air pollutants is needed.

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Available from: Fred Lurmann, Oct 10, 2015
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    • "Several of these studies have demonstrated associations between ASD and prenatal or perinatal air concentrations of various air pollutants, including particulate matter (Becerra et al., 2013; Kalkbrenner et al., 2010, 2014; Roberts et al., 2013; Talbott et al., 2015; Windham et al., 2006). Additionally, proximity to sources of airborne pollutants, including industrial facilities (Palmer et al., 2009), agricultural pesticides (Shelton et al., 2014), and high-traffic roadways (Volk et al., 2011), have been associated with ASD diagnosis and school-reported administrative prevalence , respectively. Based on results from these studies, observed relationships should be further investigated on a larger scale using highly reliable data. "
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    ABSTRACT: Prenatal and perinatal exposures to air pollutants have been shown to adversely affect birth outcomes in offspring and may contribute to prevalence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). For this ecologic study, we evaluated the association between ASD prevalence, at the census tract level, and proximity of tract centroids to the closest industrial facilities releasing arsenic, lead or mercury during the 1990s. We used 2000 to 2008 surveillance data from five sites of the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) network and 2000 census data to estimate prevalence. Multi-level negative binomial regression models were used to test associations between ASD prevalence and proximity to industrial facilities in existence from 1991 to 1999 according to the US Environmental Protection Agency Toxics Release Inventory (USEPA-TRI). Data for 2489 census tracts showed that after adjustment for demographic and socio-economic area-based characteristics, ASD prevalence was higher in census tracts located in the closest 10th percentile compared of distance to those in the furthest 50th percentile (adjusted RR=1.27, 95% CI: (1.00, 1.61), P=0.049). The findings observed in this study are suggestive of the association between urban residential proximity to industrial facilities emitting air pollutants and higher ASD prevalence. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
    Science of The Total Environment 07/2015; 536:245-251. DOI:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2015.07.024 · 4.10 Impact Factor
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    • "population based case-control studies from the Childhood Autism Risks from Genetics and the Environment (CHARGE) study. The first study population (Volk et al., 2011) consisted of 304 autism cases and 259 typically developing controls. In addition to the address on the birth certificate, a detailed residential history from three months before conception until the current address was obtained by personal interview. "
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    ABSTRACT: The causes of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are not well known. Recent investigations have suggested that air pollution, including PM2.5, may play a role in the onset of this condition. The objective of the present work was to investigate the association between prenatal and early childhood exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and risk for childhood ASD. A population-based case-control study was conducted in children born between January 1, 2005 and December 31, 2009 in six counties in Southwestern Pennsylvania. ASD cases were recruited from specialty autism clinics, local pediatric practices, and school-based special needs services. ASD cases were children who scored 15 or above on the Social Communication Questionnaire (SCQ) and had written documentation of an ASD diagnosis. Controls were children without ASD recruited from a random sample of births from the Pennsylvania state birth registry and frequency matched to cases on birth year, gender, and race. A total of 217 cases and 226 controls were interviewed. A land use regression (LUR) model was used to create person- and time-specific PM2.5 estimates for individual (pre-pregnancy, trimesters one through three, pregnancy, years one and two of life) and cumulative (starting from pre-pregnancy) key developmental time periods. Logistic regression was used to investigate the association between estimated exposure to PM2.5 during key developmental time periods and risk of ASD, adjusting for mother's age, education, race, and smoking. Adjusted odds ratios (AOR) were elevated for specific pregnancy and postnatal intervals (pre-pregnancy, pregnancy, and year one), and postnatal year two was significant, (AOR=1.45, 95% CI=1.01-2.08). We also examined the effect of cumulative pregnancy periods; noting that starting with pre-pregnancy through pregnancy, the adjusted odds ratios are in the 1.46-1.51 range and significant for pre-pregnancy through year 2 (OR=1.51, 95% CI=1.01-2.26). Our data indicate that both prenatal and postnatal exposures to PM2.5 are associated with increased risk of ASD. Future research should include multiple pollutant models and the elucidation of the biological mechanism for PM2.5 and ASD. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
    Environmental Research 05/2015; 140:414-420. DOI:10.1016/j.envres.2015.04.021 · 4.37 Impact Factor
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    • "This sharp increase could be partly attributed to better diagnosis due to improved diagnostic criteria and increased awareness, but it cannot account for the exponential increase. Research studies into prenatal exposure to environmental contaminants such as pollution, proximity to highways , and maternal occupation, have acquired heightened interest as a possible role in the etiology of autism [55] [56] [57] [58] [59]. A recent study of identical twins reported that genetics accounted for only 38% of autism risk, with environmental factors explaining the remaining 62% [60]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Developmental disorders such as autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) appear to have a complex etiology implicating both genetic and environmental factors. Bisphenol A (BPA), a widely used chemical in the plastic containers and in the linings of food and beverage cans, has been suggested to play a possible causative role in some developmental disorders. Here, we report behavioral modifications in Drosophila melanogaster following early exposure to BPA, which may suggest BPA as an environmental risk factor for the behavioral impairments that are the basis of diagnosis of autism and ADHD. In an open field assay with perinatally BPA-exposed and vehicle-treated control Drosophila, different parameters of locomotion (distance travelled, walking speed, spatial movement, mobility, turn angle, angular velocity and meander) were analyzed using the ethovision software. We also examined the repetitive and social interaction behaviors in these flies. In an open field assay, we identified disturbances in the locomotion patterns of BPA-exposed Drosophila that may relate to the decision-making and the motivational state of the animal. An increase in repetitive behavior was observed as an increase in the grooming behavior of Drosophila following BPA exposure. Furthermore, we also observed abnormal social interaction by the BPA-exposed flies in a social setting. These results demonstrate the effect of the environmentally prevalent risk agent BPA on the behavior of Drosophila, and suggest the practicability and the ease of using Drosophila as a model in the studies of neurobehavioral developmental disorders. Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier B.V.
    Behavioural Brain Research 02/2015; 284. DOI:10.1016/j.bbr.2015.02.001 · 3.03 Impact Factor
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