In the statistical literature, the class of survival analysis models known as cure models has received much attention in recent years. Cure models seem not, however, to be part of the statistical toolbox of perinatal epidemiologists. In this paper, we demonstrate that in perinatal epidemiological studies where one investigates the relation between a gestational exposure and a condition that can only be ascertained after several years, cure models may provide the correct statistical framework. The reason for this is that the hypotheses being tested often concern an unobservable outcome that, in view of the hypothesis, should be thought of as occurring at birth, even though it is only detectable much later in life. The outcome of interest can therefore be viewed as a censored binary variable. We illustrate our argument with a simple cure model analysis of the possible relation between gestational exposure to paracetamol and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, using data from the Norwegian Mother, Father and Child Cohort Study conducted by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, and information about the attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder diagnoses obtained from the Norwegian Patient Registry.
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