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Hyper-localized measures of air pollution and risk of preterm birth in Oakland and San Jose, California.


US preterm-birth rates are 1.6 times higher for Black mothers than for White mothers. Although traffic-related air pollution (TRAP) may increase the risk of preterm birth, evaluating its effect on preterm birth and disparities has been challenging because TRAP is often measured inaccurately. This study sought to estimate the effect of TRAP exposure, measured at the street level, on the prevalence of preterm birth by race/ethnicity. We linked birth-registry data with TRAP measured at the street level for singleton births in sampled communities during 2013-2015 in Oakland and San Jose, California. Using logistic regression and marginal standardization, we estimated the effects of exposure to black carbon, nitrogen dioxide and ultrafine particles on preterm birth after confounder adjustment and stratification by race/ethnicity. There were 8823 singleton births, of which 760 (8.6%) were preterm. Shifting black-carbon exposure from the 10th to the 90th percentile was associated with: 6.8%age point higher risk of preterm birth (95% confidence interval = 0.1 to 13.5) among Black women; 2.1%age point higher risk (95% confidence interval = -1.1 to 5.2) among Latinas; and inconclusive null findings among Asian and White women. For Latinas, there was evidence of a positive association between the other pollutants and risk of preterm birth, although effect sizes were attenuated in models that co-adjusted for other TRAP. Exposure to TRAP, especially black carbon, may increase the risk of preterm birth for Latina and Black women but not for Asian and White women.

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