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Early-Life Air Pollution Exposure, Neighborhood Poverty, and Childhood Asthma in the United States, 1990⁻2014.

  • Author(s): Kravitz-Wirtz, Nicole
  • Teixeira, Samantha
  • Hajat, Anjum
  • Woo, Bongki
  • Crowder, Kyle
  • Takeuchi, David
  • et al.

Ambient air pollution is a well-known risk factor of various asthma-related outcomes, however, past research has often focused on acute exacerbations rather than asthma development. This study draws on a population-based, multigenerational panel dataset from the United States to assess the association of childhood asthma risk with census block-level, annual-average air pollution exposure measured during the prenatal and early postnatal periods, as well as effect modification by neighborhood poverty. Findings suggest that early-life exposures to nitrogen dioxide (NO₂), a marker of traffic-related pollution, and fine particulate matter (PM2.5), a mixture of industrial and other pollutants, are positively associated with subsequent childhood asthma diagnosis (OR = 1.25, 95% CI = 1.10⁻1.41 and OR = 1.25, 95% CI = 1.06⁻1.46, respectively, per interquartile range (IQR) increase in each pollutant (NO₂ IQR = 8.51 ppb and PM2.5 IQR = 4.43 µ/m³)). These effects are modified by early-life neighborhood poverty exposure, with no or weaker effects in moderate- and low- (versus high-) poverty areas. This work underscores the importance of a holistic, developmental approach to elucidating the interplay of social and environmental contexts that may create conditions for racial-ethnic and socioeconomic disparities in childhood asthma risk.

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