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Prenatal and Early Life Exposure to Stressful Life Events and Risk of Autism Spectrum Disorders: Population-Based Studies in Sweden and England

Rai, D; Golding, J; Magnusson, C; Steer, C; Lewis, G; Dalman, C; (2012) Prenatal and Early Life Exposure to Stressful Life Events and Risk of Autism Spectrum Disorders: Population-Based Studies in Sweden and England. PLoS One , 7 (6) , Article e38893. 10.1371/journal.pone.0038893. Green open access

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Abstract

Background and Aim Exposure to stressful life events during pregnancy has been suggested as a potential risk factor for offspring Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), but the literature is limited and inconsistent. We tested the hypothesis that maternal exposure to stressful life events would be associated with increased risks of offspring ASD, and that these risks would be highest for exposures during the prenatal period. Methods and Results We used prospectively collected data from two large population based studies in Sweden and England. In the Swedish study of 4429 ASD cases and 43277 controls, our exposure comprised the occurrence of any severe life event before and during pregnancy and the child's early life. In the English study (maximum n = 11554, ASD n = 72), we studied the risk of offspring ASD in relation to a combined maternal exposure to multiple (up to 42) common and rare life events, as well as their perceived impact upon the mother during pregnancy and early life. In crude and adjusted regression analyses in both studies, we found no evidence of an association between prenatal life events, or their number and perceived impact and the risk of offspring ASD. Sub-group analysis of ASD with and without intellectual disability in the Swedish study yielded similar results. Conclusion We found no evidence to support the hypotheses that exposure to stressful life events during the prenatal period is associated with an increased risk of offspring ASD.

Type: Article
Title: Prenatal and Early Life Exposure to Stressful Life Events and Risk of Autism Spectrum Disorders: Population-Based Studies in Sweden and England
Location: United States
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0038893
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0038893
Language: English
Additional information: © 2012 Rai et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. PMCID: PMC3374800
Keywords: Autistic Disorder, Cohort Studies, England, Female, Humans, Life Change Events, Maternal Exposure, Pregnancy, Stress, Psychological, Sweden
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Division of Psychiatry
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1396927
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