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Author Notes:

Email Address:Cheng Huang : chenghuang@gwu.edu

CH conceived of the study and drafted the manuscript, CH and SG performed the statistical analysis, and CN, YL, ZL, and AR helped to draft the manuscript.

YL, XL, and YZ provided access to the data. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Competing interests The authors declare that they have no competing interests.


Ambient air pollution and adverse birth outcomes: a natural experiment study


Journal Title:

Population Health Metrics


Volume 13, Number 1


Type of Work:

Article | Final Publisher PDF


Background Radical regulations to improve air quality, including traffic control, were implemented prior to and during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. Consequently, ambient concentrations of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particular matter 10 micrometers or less (PM10), were reduced in a distinct and short window of time, which presented a natural experiment for testing the relationships between maternal exposure to PM10 and NO2 during pregnancy and adverse birth outcomes. Methods We estimated the effect of PM10 and NO2 exposure during each trimester of gestation on the risk of preterm birth among live births and the birth weight among term babies. The data were based on 50,874 live births delivered between January 1, 2006 and December 31, 2010 at the Beijing Haidian Maternal and Child Health Hospital. Air monitoring data for the same period were obtained from the Beijing Municipal Environmental Monitoring Center. Results Among full-term births, maternal exposure to NO2 in the third trimester predicted birth weight, with each 10-unit increment (per 10 ug/m3) in NO2 concentration associated with a 13.78 g (95 % confidence interval: −21.12, −6.43; p < 0.0001) reduction in birth weight. This association was maintained after adjusting for other pollutants, including carbon monoxide (CO), sulfur dioxide (SO2), and PM10. No relationship was found between the concentration of PM10 and low birth weight among full-term births. Neither PM10 nor NO2 concentrations predicted the risk of premature birth. Conclusions Exposure to ambient air pollution during certain periods of pregnancy may decrease birth weight, but the effect size is small.

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© Huang et al. 2015

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits distribution, public display, and publicly performance, distribution of derivative works, making multiple copies, provided the original work is properly cited. This license requires credit be given to copyright holder and/or author, copyright and license notices be kept intact.

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