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Additive interaction between birth asphyxia and febrile seizures on autism spectrum disorder: a population-based study.

Molecular Autism 2024 April 11
BACKGROUND: Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a pervasive neurodevelopmental disorder that can significantly impact an individual's ability to socially integrate and adapt. It's crucial to identify key factors associated with ASD. Recent studies link both birth asphyxia (BA) and febrile seizures (FS) separately to higher ASD prevalence. However, investigations into the interplay of BA and FS and its relationship with ASD are yet to be conducted. The present study mainly focuses on exploring the interactive effect between BA and FS in the context of ASD.

METHODS: Utilizing a multi-stage stratified cluster sampling, we initially recruited 84,934 Shanghai children aged 3-12 years old from June 2014 to June 2015, ultimately including 74,251 post-exclusion criteria. A logistic regression model was conducted to estimate the interaction effect after controlling for pertinent covariates. The attributable proportion (AP), the relative excess risk due to interaction (RERI), the synergy index (SI), and multiplicative-scale interaction were computed to determine the interaction effect.

RESULTS: Among a total of 74,251 children, 192 (0.26%) were diagnosed with ASD. The adjusted odds ratio for ASD in children with BA alone was 3.82 (95% confidence interval [CI] 2.42-6.02), for FS alone 3.06 (95%CI 1.48-6.31), and for comorbid BA and FS 21.18 (95%CI 9.10-49.30), versus children without BA or FS. The additive interaction between BA and FS showed statistical significance (P < 0.001), whereas the multiplicative interaction was statistically insignificant (P > 0.05).

LIMITATIONS: This study can only demonstrate the relationship between the interaction of BA and FS with ASD but cannot prove causation. Animal brain experimentation is necessary to unravel its neural mechanisms. A larger sample size, ongoing monitoring, and detailed FS classification are needed for confirming BA-FS interaction in ASD.

CONCLUSION: In this extensive cross-sectional study, both BA and FS were significantly linked to ASD. The coexistence of these factors was associated with an additive increase in ASD prevalence, surpassing the cumulative risk of each individual factor.

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