Yonkman A , Alampi JD, Kaida A, Allen, R, Chen A, Lanphear BP, Braun JM , Muckle G, Arbuckle TE, McCandless LC. Epidemiology 2022 Sep 26. doi: 10.1097/EDE.0000000000001554
Unsupervised machine learning techniques have become increasingly popular for studying associations between gestational exposure mixtures and human health. Latent profile analysis is one method that has not been fully explored.
We estimated associations between gestational chemical mixtures and child neurodevelopment using latent profile analysis. Using data from the Maternal-Infant Research on Environmental Chemicals (MIREC) research platform, a longitudinal cohort of pregnant Canadian women and their children, we generated latent profiles from 27 gestational exposure biomarkers. We then examined the associations between these profiles and child Verbal IQ, Performance IQ, and Full-Scale IQ, measured with the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence (WPPSI-III). We validated our findings using k-means clustering.
Latent profile analysis detected five latent profiles of exposure: a reference profile containing 61% of the study participants, a high Mono-ethyl Phthalate (MEP) profile with moderately low persistent organic pollutants (POPs) containing 26%, a high POP profile containing 6%, a low POP profile containing 4%, and a smoking chemicals profile containing 3%. We observed negative associations between both the smoking chemicals and high MEP profiles and all IQ scores, and between the high POP profile and Full-Scale and Verbal IQ scores. We also found a positive association between the low POP profile and Full-Scale and Performance IQ scores. All associations had wide 95% confidence intervals.
Latent profile analysis is a promising technique for identifying patterns of chemical exposure, and is worthy of further study for its use in examining complicated exposure mixtures.