Early Exposures to Phthalates Associated with ADHD Symptoms in Children with ASD

March 13, 2023

New Research Uses Data from the Childhood Autism Risks from Genetics and Environment (CHARGE) Study

A new UC Davis MIND Institute study has found associations of phenol/parabens mixtures in urine samples of children with autism with increased ADHD symptoms, especially inattention. Predictably, these associations were more pronounced in males. The present study’s design included a total of 574 children aged 2-5 years old from the Childhood Autism Risks from Genetics and Environment (CHARGE) case-control study who were administered the Aberrant Behavior Checklist (ABC). The study focused on the Hyperactivity subscale and its two subdomains (hyperactivity/impulsivity and inattention). Then, 62 chemicals from four classes (phenols/parabens, phthalates, organophosphate pesticides, and trace elements) were measured in the participant’s urine samples. Forty-three chemicals were detected in more than 70% of samples and were used in statistical analyses. After running further mixture analyses on the samples, the team restricted the study to 232 children with ASD. Results showed that the participant’s inattention problems were associated with mixtures of phenols and parabens, possibly contributed by several parabens and their metabolites (ETPB, PRPB, BUPB, DHB34) and two bisphenols (BPP, BPAP), as well as total mixtures that were weighted for paraben metabolite (DHB34) and two phthalates (MNBP, MECPP). The authors suggest that due to restrictive dietary habits, behaviors, and usage of personal care products, children with autism may have a different exposure route to parabens and bisphenols than their neurotypical counterparts. They recommend further studies on phenols/parabens exposures in relation to diets and behaviors of children on the spectrum to ascertain whether they have different exposure patterns than children without the disorder. 

Original Study

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