Association between atopic diseases and neurodevelopmental disabilities in a longitudinal birth cohort

Xueqi Qu, Li Ching Lee, Christine Ladd-Acosta, Xiumei Hong, Yuelong Ji, Luther G. Kalb, Heather E. Volk, Xiaobin Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Reports on the association between the prevalence of atopic diseases and neurodevelopmental disabilities (NDs) have been inconsistent in the literature. We investigated whether autism spectrum disorder (ASD), attention deficit-hyperactivity disorders (ADHD), and other NDs are more prevalent in children with asthma, atopic dermatitis (AD) and allergic rhinitis (AR) compared to those without specific atopic conditions. A total of 2580 children enrolled at birth were followed prospectively, of which 119 have ASD, 423 have ADHD, 765 have other NDs, and 1273 have no NDs. Atopic diseases and NDs were defined based on physician diagnoses in electronic medical records. Logistic regressions adjusting for maternal and child characteristics estimated the associations between NDs (i.e., ASD, ADHD, and other NDs) and asthma, AD and AR, respectively. Children with asthma, AD or AR had a greater likelihood of having ADHD or other NDs compared with children without specific atopic conditions. The association between ASD and asthma diminished after adjusting for maternal and child factors. Either mothers or children having atopic conditions and both mothers and children with atopic conditions were associated with a higher prevalence of ADHD in children, compared with neither mothers nor children having atopic conditions. Children diagnosed with multiple atopic diseases were more likely to have NDs compared with those without or with only one type of atopic disease. In conclusion, in this U.S. urban birth cohort, children with atopic diseases had a higher co-morbidity of NDs. The findings have implications for etiologic research that searches for common early life antecedents of NDs and atopic conditions. Findings from this study also should raise awareness among health care providers and parents about the possible co-occurrence of both NDs and atopic conditions, which calls for coordinated efforts to screen, prevent and manage NDs and atopic conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)740-750
Number of pages11
JournalAutism Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2022


  • atopic diseases
  • birth cohort
  • children
  • neurodevelopmental disability
  • the United States

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Genetics(clinical)
  • General Neuroscience


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