Skip Navigation
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Dot gov

The .gov means it’s official.
Federal government websites often end in .gov or .mil. Before sharing sensitive information, make sure you’re on a federal government site.


The site is secure.
The https:// ensures that you are connecting to the official website and that any information you provide is encrypted and transmitted securely.

Your Environment. Your Health.

Publication Detail

Title: Modeled prenatal exposure to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances in association with child autism spectrum disorder: A case-control study.

Authors: Shin, Hyeong-Moo; Bennett, Deborah H; Calafat, Antonia M; Tancredi, Daniel; Hertz-Picciotto, Irva

Published In Environ Res, (2020 07)

Abstract: BACKGROUND/OBJECTIVE: Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) display neurobehavioral toxicity in laboratory animal studies. We examined associations of modeled prenatal maternal exposure to PFAS with child diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). METHODS: Participants were 453 mother-child pairs from CHARGE (CHildhood Autism Risk from Genetics and Environment), a population-based case-control study. Children underwent psychometric testing and were clinically confirmed for ASD (n = 239) or typical development (TD, n = 214). At the end of the clinic visit, maternal blood specimens were collected. We quantified nine PFAS in maternal serum samples collected when their child was 2-5 years old. As surrogate in utero exposure, we used a model built from external prospective data in pregnancy and 24 months post-partum and then reconstructed maternal PFAS serum concentrations during pregnancy in this case-control sample. We used logistic regression to evaluate associations of modeled prenatal maternal PFAS concentrations with child ASD. RESULTS: Modeled prenatal maternal perfluorohexane sulfonate (PFHxS) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) were borderline associated with increased odds of child diagnosis of ASD (per nanogram per milliliter increase: odds ratio [OR] = 1.46; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.98, 2.18 for PFHxS, OR = 1.03; 95% CI: 0.99, 1.08 for PFOS). When compared to the lowest quartile (reference category), the highest quartile of modeled prenatal maternal PFHxS was associated with increased odds of child diagnosis of ASD (OR = 1.95; 95% CI: 1.02, 3.72). CONCLUSIONS: In analyses where modeled prenatal maternal PFAS serum concentrations served as in utero exposure, we observed that prenatal PFHxS and PFOS exposure, but not other PFAS, were borderline associated with increased odds of child diagnosis of ASD. Further studies in which PFAS concentrations are prospectively measured in mothers and children at a range of developmental stages are needed to confirm these findings.

PubMed ID: 32353786 Exiting the NIEHS site

MeSH Terms: Alkanesulfonic Acids*/toxicity; Autism Spectrum Disorder*/chemically induced; Autism Spectrum Disorder*/epidemiology; Case-Control Studies; Child; Child, Preschool; Environmental Pollutants*/toxicity; Female; Fluorocarbons*/toxicity; Humans; Pregnancy; Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects*/epidemiology; Prospective Studies

to Top