Pre-/perinatal reduced optimality and neurodevelopment at 1 month and 3 years of age: Results from the Japan Environment and Children’s Study (JECS)

Japan Environment and Children’s Study Group

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Neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs) in children are associated with a complex combination of genetic and/or environmental factors. Pre-/perinatal events are major known environmental suboptimal factors, and their individual and combined contributions vary. This study investigated the association between pre-/perinatal reduced optimality and child development observed by parents at 1 month, as well as NDDs at 3 years of age (i.e., motor delay, intellectual disability, developmental language disorder, and autism spectrum disorder), in the context of the Japan Environment and Children’s Study. The study also assessed whether child development at 1 month predicted NDDs at 3 years of age. Associations between 25 pre-/perinatal factors and (a) developmental concerns at 1 month of age and (b) NDDs at 3 years were analyzed (n = 71,682). Binomial regression models were used to investigate risk ratios of the developmental outcome at each time point for total pre-/perinatal reduced optimality scale scores, as well as for individual pre-/perinatal factors of the reduced optimality scale. Finally, we assessed the ability of parental observations of offspring development at 1 month to predict NDDs at 3 years. Total reduced optimality scores were positively associated with 1-month developmental concerns and 3-year NDDs, with higher scores (i.e., a reduction in optimality) associated with an increased risk of both NDDs and earlier parental concerns. Neonatal transportation, epidural analgesia, advanced maternal age, cesarean section delivery, Apgar score ≤8, and hyperbilirubinemia were identified as individual risk factors for 3-year NDDs, overlapping with 14 risk factors for 1-month developmental concerns except Apgar score ≤8. Among six developmental items assessed at 1 month of age, concerns about gross motor function and difficulty holding/trouble calming down had the strongest associations with later-diagnosed motor delay and autism spectrum disorder, respectively. Five perinatal factors and advanced maternal age were associated with NDD at 3 years of age, as were early parental developmental concerns regarding their offspring’s overall development, indicating the importance of careful follow-up of offspring born with pre-/perinatal reduced optimality. The results also implicated early parental concerns, as early as 1 month, may also be a useful indicator of later NDD status.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e0280249
JournalPloS ONE
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jan 2023

Bibliographical note

The authors thank the JECS participants and the JECS Group as well as Nagamasa Maeda, Mikiya Fujieda, Naomi Mitsuda, and Atsuko Mori of the Kochi Regional Centre of the JECS and Sifa Marie Joelle Muchanga of the National Center for Global Health and Medicine. The members of the JECS Group as of 2022 are as follows: Michihiro Kamijima (principal investigator, Nagoya City University, Nagoya, Japan,, Shin Yamazaki (National Institute for Environmental Studies, Tsukuba, Japan), Yukihiro Ohya (National Center for Child Health and Development, Tokyo, Japan), Reiko Kishi (Hokkaido University, Sapporo, Japan), Nobuo Yaegashi (Tohoku University, Sendai, Japan), Koichi Hashimoto (Fukushima Medical University, Fukushima, Japan), Chisato Mori (Chiba University, Chiba, Japan), Shuichi Ito (Yokohama City University, Yokohama, Japan), Zentaro Yamagata (Universit y of Yamanashi, Chuo, Japan), Hidekuni Inadera (University of Toyama, Toyama, Japan), Takeo Nakayama (Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan), Tomotaka Sobue (Osaka University, Suita, Japan), Masayuki Shima (Hyogo Medical University, Nishinomiya, Japan), Hiroshige Nakamura(Tottori University, Yonago, Japan), Narufumi Suganuma (Kochi University, Nankoku, Japan), Koichi Kusuhara (University of Occupational and Environmental Health, Kitakyushu, Japan), and Takahiko Katoh (Kumamoto University, Kumamoto, Japan).

Funding: The Japan Environment and Children’s Study (JECS) is funded by the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) of Japan, including data collection. The present study utilized part of the JECS data. However, for this particular study “Pre-/perinatal reduced optimality and neurodevelopment at 1 month and 3 years of age – Results from the Japan Environment and Children’s Study (JECS)”, the funder had no role in study design, analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Data Availability Statement

Data are unsuitable for public deposition due to ethical restrictions and legal framework of Japan. It is prohibited by the Act on the Protection of Personal Information (Act No. 57 of 30 May 2003, amendment on 9 September 2015) to publicly deposit the data containing personal information. Ethical Guidelines for Medical and Health Research Involving Human Subjects enforced by the Japan Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology and the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare also restricts the open sharing of the epidemiologic data. All inquiries about access to data should be sent to Dr. Shoji F. Nakayama, JECS Programme Office, National Institute for Environmental Studies (( via email (


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