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Birth Weight following Pregnancy during the 2003 Southern California Wildfires

  • Author(s): Holstius, David M
  • Reid, Colleen E
  • Jesdale, Bill M
  • Morello-Frosch, Rachel
  • et al.

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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International Public License

Background: In late October 2003, a series of wildfires exposed urban populations in Southern California to elevated levels of air pollution over several weeks. Previous research suggests that short-term hospital admissions for respiratory outcomes increased specifically as a result of these fires.

Objective: We assessed the impact of a wildfire event during pregnancy on birth weight among term infants.

Methods: Using records for singleton term births delivered to mothers residing in California’s South Coast Air Basin (SoCAB) during 2001–2005 (n = 886, 034), we compared birth weights from pregnancies that took place entirely before or after the wildfire event (n = 747, 590) with those where wildfires occurred during the first (n = 60, 270), second (n = 39, 435), or third (n = 38, 739) trimester. The trimester-specific effects of wildfire exposure were estimated using a fixed-effects regression model with several maternal characteristics included as covariates.

Results: Compared with pregnancies before and after the wildfires, mean birth weight was estimated to be 7.0 g lower [95% confidence interval (CI): –11.8, –2.2] when the wildfire occurred during the third trimester, 9.7 g lower when it occurred during the second trimester (95% CI: –14.5, –4.8), and 3.3 g lower when it occurred during the first trimester (95% CI: –7.2, 0.6).

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