Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

UC Berkeley

UC Berkeley Previously Published Works bannerUC Berkeley

Residential Proximity to Major Roadways at Birth, DNA Methylation at Birth and Midchildhood, and Childhood Cognitive Test Scores: Project Viva(Massachusetts, USA)

Published Web Location


Epigenetic variability is hypothesized as a regulatory pathway through which prenatal exposures may influence child development and health.


We sought to examine the associations of residential proximity to roadways at birth and epigenome-wide DNA methylation. We also assessed associations of differential methylation with child cognitive outcomes.


We estimated residential proximity to roadways at birth using a geographic information system (GIS) and cord blood methylation using Illumina's HumanMethylation450-array in 482 mother-child pairs in Project Viva. We identified individual CpGs associated with residential-proximity-to-roadways at birth using robust linear regression [[Formula: see text]]. We also estimated association between proximity-to-roadways at birth and methylation of the same sites in blood samples collected at age 7-11 y ([Formula: see text]). We ran the same analyses in the Generation R Study for replication ([Formula: see text]). In Project Viva, we investigated associations of differential methylation at birth with midchildhood cognition using linear regression.


Living closer to major roadways at birth was associated with higher cord blood (and-more weakly-midchildhood blood) methylation of four sites in LAMB2. For each halving of residential-proximity-to-major-roadways, we observed a 0.82% increase in DNA methylation at cg05654765 [95% confidence interval (CI): (0.54%, 1.10%)], 0.88% at cg14099457 [95% CI: (0.56%, 1.19%)], 0.19% at cg03732535 [95% CI: (0.11%, 0.28)], and 1.08% at cg02954987 [95% CI: (0.65%, 1.51%)]. Higher cord blood methylation of these sites was associated with lower midchildhood nonverbal cognitive scores. Our results did not replicate in the Generation R Study.


Our discovery results must be interpreted with caution, given that they were not replicated in a separate cohort. However, living close to major roadways at birth was associated with cord blood methylation of sites in LAMB2-a gene known to be linked to axonal development-in our U.S. cohort. Higher methylation of these sites associated with lower nonverbal cognitive scores at age 7-11 y in the same children.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View