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Prenatal air pollution exposure and ultrasound measures of fetal growth in Los Angeles, California



Few previous studies examined the impact of prenatal air pollution exposures on fetal development based on ultrasound measures during pregnancy.


In a prospective birth cohort of more than 500 women followed during 1993-1996 in Los Angeles, California, we examined how air pollution impacts fetal growth during pregnancy. Exposure to traffic related air pollution was estimated using CALINE4 air dispersion modeling for nitrogen oxides (NOx) and a land use regression (LUR) model for nitrogen monoxide (NO), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and NOx. Exposures to carbon monoxide (CO), NO2, ozone (O3) and particles <10μm in aerodynamic diameter (PM10) were estimated using government monitoring data. We employed a linear mixed effects model to estimate changes in fetal size at approximately 19, 29 and 37 weeks gestation based on ultrasound.


Exposure to traffic-derived air pollution during 29 to 37 weeks was negatively associated with biparietal diameter at 37 weeks gestation. For each interquartile range (IQR) increase in LUR-based estimates of NO, NO2 and NOx, or freeway CALINE4 NOx we estimated a reduction in biparietal diameter of 0.2-0.3mm. For women residing within 5km of a monitoring station, we estimated biparietal diameter reductions of 0.9-1.0mm per IQR increase in CO and NO2. Effect estimates were robust to adjustment for a number of potential confounders. We did not observe consistent patterns for other growth endpoints we examined.


Prenatal exposure to traffic-derived pollution was negatively associated with fetal head size measured as biparietal diameter in late pregnancy.

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