Associations between Autism Spectrum Disorders and Maternally-Reported Use of Imidacloprid

The environmental contribution to autism spectrum disorders (ASD) is largely unknown, but household pesticides are receiving increased attention. We examined associations between ASD and maternally-reported use of imidacloprid, a common flea and tick treatment for pets. Our analytic dataset included complete information for 262 typically developing controls and 407 children with ASD. Compared with exposure among controls, the odds of prenatal imidacloprid exposure among children with ASD were slightly higher, with an odds ratio (OR) of 1.3 (95% Credible Interval [CrI] 0.78, 2.2). A susceptibility window analysis yielded higher ORs for exposures during pregnancy than for early life exposures, whereas limiting to frequent users of imidacloprid, the OR increased to 2.0 (95% CI 1.0, 3.9). The association between imidacloprid exposure and ASD warrants further investigation, and this work highlights the need for validation studies regarding prenatal exposures in ASD.

Source: Keil AP et al. (2014). Environmental Health 13:3