Early life exposure to particulate matter air pollution (PM1, PM2.5 and PM10) and autism in Shanghai, China: A case-control study

Gongbo Chen, Zhijuan Jin, Shanshan Li, Xingming Jin, Shilu Tong, Shijian Liu, You Yang, Hong Huang, Yuming Guo

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71 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The evidence for adverse effects of ambient particulate matter (PM) pollution on mental health is limited. Studies in Western countries suggested higher risk of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) associated with PM air pollution, but no such study has been done in developing countries. Methods: A case-control study was performed in Shanghai with a multi-stage random sampling design. Children's exposures to PM1, PM2.5 and PM10 (particulate matter with aerodynamic diameter < 1 μm, < 2.5 μm and < 10 μm, respectively) during the first three years after birth were estimated with satellite remote sensing data. Conditional logistic regression was used to examine the PM-ASD association. Results: In total, 124 ASD cases and 1240 healthy controls were included in this study. The median levels of PM1, PM2.5 and PM10 exposures during the first three years of life were 48.8 μg/m3, 66.2 μg/m3 and 95.4 μg/m3, respectively, and the interquartile range (IQR) for these three pollutants were 4.8 μg/m3, 3.4 μg/m3 and 4.9 μg/m3, respectively. The adjusted odds ratios (and 95% confidence intervals) of ASD associated with an IQR increase for PM1, PM2.5 and PM10 were 1.86 (1.09, 3.17), 1.78 (1.14, 2.76) and 1.68 (1.09, 2.59), respectively. Higher ORs of ASD associated with PM pollution were observed in the second and the third year after birth. Conclusions: Exposures to PM1, PM2.5 and PM10 during the first three years of life were associated with the increased risk of ASD and there appeared to be stronger effects of ambient PM pollution on ASD in the second and the third years after birth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1121-1127
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironment International
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2018


  • Air pollution
  • Autism
  • China
  • PM

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