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Air toxics and birth defects: a Bayesian hierarchical approach to evaluate multiple pollutants and spina bifida

While there is evidence that maternal exposure to benzene is associated with spina bifida in offspring, to our knowledge there have been no assessments to evaluate the role of multiple hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) simultaneously on the risk of this relatively common birth defect. In the current study, we evaluated the association between maternal exposure to HAPs identified by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) and spina bifida in offspring using hierarchical Bayesian modeling that includes Stochastic Search Variable Selection (SSVS).
Overall this study found evidence that quinoline and trichloroethylene may be significant contributors to the risk of spina bifida. Additionally, the use of Bayesian hierarchical models with SSVS is an alternative approach in the evaluation of multiple environmental pollutants on disease risk. This approach can be easily extended to environmental exposures, where novel approaches are needed in the context of multi-pollutant modeling.

Bibliography:
Michael D Swartz, Yi Cai, Wenyaw Chan, Elaine Symanski, Laura E Mitchell, Heather E Danysh, Peter H Langlois and Philip J Lupo
Air toxics and birth defects: a Bayesian hierarchical approach to evaluate multiple pollutants and spina bifida
Environmental Health 2015 14:16
DOI: 10.1186/1476-069X-14-16

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