Excessive Rainfall May Be Linked To Autism Through Nitrous Oxide Exposure

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Keith Fluegge BS
Institute of Health and Environmental Research (IHER) Cleveland
Graduate School, The Ohio State University, Columbus

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The research letter discusses the possible link between rainfall precipitation and risk of autism. Earlier research suggested a link, although there remained quite a bit of skepticism surrounding the findings at the time.

The purpose of the study was to briefly highlight the role of environmental exposure to the agricultural and combustion pollutant, nitrous oxide (N2O), as a possible etiological factor in neurodevelopmental disorders. We have published a series of epidemiological investigations, reviews, and correspondences discussing this possibility. In my continued research on this topic, I learned that rainfall and extreme weather-related events, like hurricanes, drive N2O emissions, especially from nitrogen amended soils. Exposure to this particular air pollutant may, therefore, plausibly undergird the relationship between rainfall precipitation and risk of autism.

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Inhaled Nitric Oxide Still Used Off-Label In Preterm Infants

Marc Ellsworth, M.D Neonatology fellow at the Mayo Clinic Children’s CenterMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Marc Ellsworth, M.D
Neonatology fellow at the
Mayo Clinic Children’s Center

MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study?

Dr. Ellsworth: Inhaled Nitric Oxide (iNO) is a drug that has FDA approval for use in neonates >34 weeks gestational age. It is used for severe respiratory failure secondary to pulmonary hypertension. However, it has been previously shown that neonatologists have been using this medication off-label and especially in the most premature neonates. Over the last 10 years there have been multiple large studies trying to determine a clinical use (ie long term benefit) for iNO in preterm neonates (patients where there is no FDA approval for iNO use currently). Despite evidence of short term benefit (improved clinical stability) use of this drug has not been shown to improve long-term outcomes (death and chronic lung disease) in premature neonates. As a result of these findings the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) released a consensus guideline in 2011 indicated that available evidence did not support the routine use of iNO in preterm neonates and discouraged this use of this expensive therapy in preterm neonates. Similarly, in 2014 the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a similar statement with similar recommendations.

In 2014 a group of NICUs (collectively called the Neonatal Research Network) associated with the NICHD published a report showing that the use of Inhaled Nitric Oxide in preterm infants (ie off-label) decreased following the report in 2011.

However, I did not feel that these NICUs were representative of the United States alone as the Neonatal Research Network consists of only a handful of NICUs (~15) and is directly associated with the NICHD. As a result I wanted to get a better idea of Inhaled Nitric Oxide use in a population based study to see if the trends were similar (ie use of iNO has been decreasing) on a much larger, more representative scale. (Editorial comment: My anecdotal experience was that rates of iNO use off-label have not decreased in preterm neonates since the 2011 report).

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