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Prenatal Exposure to Metals and Risk for Autism Spectrum Disorder in MARBLES and EARLI

The peri-conceptual and prenatal periods of gestation are the most likely window of susceptibility for ASD; thus, maternal exposures and maternal genetic susceptibility are critical targets of investigation. Maternal exposure to heavy metals has been recognized for many years as a cause of fetal harm, particularly neurodevelopmental. In this study, we combine two prospective, enriched risk, pregnancy cohorts with available pregnancy and birth biosamples for metals and genetic measurement, with early-life developmental phenotype data, with age 3 ASD diagnosis status assessed by ASD researchers, and enough outcomes to provide adequate power given the enriched design. Further, we consider the utility of epigenetic measures in the study of these environmental risk factors, given evidence of the susceptibility of DNA methylation changes from metals exposure and the potential role of DNA methylation as a mediator of ASD risk or as a post-natal biomarker of metals exposure.

Investigator: Croen, Lisa

Funder: National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences

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