Spatially and temporally resolved ambient pm2.5 in relation to preterm birth

Whitney Cowell, Elena Colicino, Xueying Zhang, Rachel Ledyard, Heather H. Burris, Michele R. Hacker, Itai Kloog, Allan Just, Robert O. Wright, Rosalind J. Wright

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Growing evidence suggests that maternal exposure to ambient fine particulate matter (PM2.5 ) during pregnancy is associated with preterm birth; however, few studies have examined critical windows of exposure, which can help elucidate underlying biologic mechanisms and inform public health messaging for limiting exposure. Participants included 891 mother–newborn pairs enrolled in a U.S.-based pregnancy cohort study. Daily residential PM2.5 concentrations at a 1 × 1 km2 resolution were estimated using a satellite-based hybrid model. Gestational age at birth was abstracted from electronic medical records and preterm birth (PTB) was defined as <37 completed weeks of gestation. We used Critical Window Variable Selection to examine weekly PM2.5 exposure in relation to the odds of PTB and examined sex-specific associations using stratified models. The mean ± standard deviation PM2.5 level averaged across pregnancy was 8.13 ± 1.10 µg/m3 . PM2.5 exposure was not associated with an increased odds of PTB during any gestational week. In sex-stratified models, we observed a marginal increase in the odds of PTB with exposure occurring during gestational week 16 among female infants only. This study does not provide strong evidence supporting an association between weekly exposure to PM2.5 and preterm birth.

Original languageEnglish
Article number352
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2021


  • Air pollution
  • Fetal sex
  • Fine particulate matter
  • PM
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal
  • Preterm birth

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Toxicology
  • Chemical Health and Safety


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