The effect of prenatal treatments on offspring events in the presence of competing events: An application to a randomized trial of fertility therapies

Yu Han Chiu, Mats J. Stensrud, Issa J. Dahabreh, Paolo Rinaudo, Michael P. Diamond, John Hsu, Sonia Hernández-Díaz, Miguel A. Hernán

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

When studying the effect of a prenatal treatment on events in the offspring, failure to produce a live birth is a competing event for events in the offspring. A common approach to handle this competing event is reporting both the treatment-specific probabilities of live births and of the event of interest among live births. However, when the treatment affects the competing event, the latter probability cannot be interpreted as the causal effect among live births. Here we provide guidance for researchers interested in the effects of prenatal treatments on events in the offspring in the presence of the competing event "no live birth." We review the total effect of treatment on a composite event and the total effect of treatment on the event of interest. These causal effects are helpful for decision making but are agnostic about the pathways through which treatment affects the event of interest. Therefore, based on recent work, we also review three causal effects that explicitly consider the pathways through which treatment may affect the event of interest in the presence of competing events: the direct effect of treatment on the event of interest under an intervention to eliminate the competing event, the separable direct and indirect effects of treatment on the event of interest, and the effect of treatment in the principal stratum of those who would have had a live birth irrespective of treatment choice. As an illustrative example, we use a randomized trial of fertility treatments and risk of neonatal complications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)636-643
Number of pages8
JournalEpidemiology
Volume31
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020

Keywords

  • Competing events
  • Decision making
  • Direct effects
  • Prenatal treatments
  • Principal stratum effects
  • Separable effects

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology

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