Suggested Citation: Carter, Sarah, Mostafijur Rahman, Jane Lin, Ting Chow, Xin Yu, Mayra Martinez, Pat Levitt, Zhanghua Chen, Jiu-Chiuan Chen, Sandrah Eckel, Joel Schwartz, Frederick Lurmann, Michael J. Kleeman, Rob McConnell, Anny Xiang (2023) Maternal Exposure to Aircraft Emitted Ultrafine Particles During Pregnancy and Likelihood of ASD in Children. Environment International 178
There is increasing evidence for adverse health effects associated with aircraft-emitted particulate matter (PM) exposures, which are largely in the ultrafine (PM0.1) size fraction, but no previous study has examined neurodevelopmental outcomes.
To assess associations between maternal exposure to aircraft ultrafine particles (UFP) during pregnancy and offspring autism spectrum disorder (ASD) diagnosis.
This large, representative cohort study included 370,723 singletons born in a single healthcare system. Demographic data, maternal health information, and child’s ASD diagnosis by age 5 were extracted from electronic medical records. Aircraft exposure estimates for PM0.1 were generated by the University of California Davis/California Institute of Technology Source Oriented Chemical Transport model. Cox proportional hazard models were used to assess associations between maternal exposure to aircraft PM0·1 in pregnancy and ASD diagnosis, controlling for covariates.
Over the course of follow-up, 4,554 children (1.4 %) were diagnosed with ASD. Increased risk of ASD was associated with maternal exposure to aircraft PM0.1 [hazard ratio, HR: 1.02, (95 % confidence interval (CI): 1.01–1.03) per IQR = 0.02 µg/m3 increase during pregnancy. Associations were robust to adjustment for total PM0.1 and fine particulate matter (PM2.5), near-roadway air pollution, and other covariates. Noise adjustment modestly attenuated estimates of UFP effects, which remained statistically significant.
The results strengthen the emerging evidence that maternal particulate matter exposure during pregnancy is associated with offspring ASD diagnosis and identify aircraft-derived PM0.1 as novel targets for further study and potential regulation.