Low levels of ambient air pollution during pregnancy and fetal growth among term neonates in Brisbane, Australia

Craig Hansen, Anne Neller, Gail Williams, Rod Simpson

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There is mounting evidence that maternal exposure to ambient air pollution during pregnancy is associated with adverse birth outcomes. We examined birth weight and small for gestational age (SGA <10th percentile for age and gender) among 26,617 singleton full-term births in Brisbane, Australia (July 2000-June 2003), in relation to ambient pollution during pregnancy. We also examined head circumference (HC) and crown-heel length (CHL) among a sub-sample (n=21,432) of the term neonates. Maternal exposure to PM10, visibility reducing particles (bsp), O3 and NO2 was assessed by calculating average exposure estimates over months and trimesters of pregnancy based on a citywide average of the pollutants. Linear and logistic regression models were employed to examine the effect of these pollutants on the birth outcomes after adjusting for potential confounders and season of birth. The regression coefficients were based on an inter-quartile range (IQR) increase in exposure as well as quartiles of exposure with the lowest used as a reference category. Trimester- and monthly specific exposures to all pollutants were not significantly associated with a reduction in either birth weight or HC, or an increased risk of SGA. An IQR increase in NO2 during the third trimester was associated with a reduction in CHL (β = - 0.15 cm, 95% CI -0.25 to -0.05 cm) and this was concentrated around exposure during month nine. No other pollutants were associated with a reduction in CHL. In conclusion, there was no strong evidence suggesting that ambient air pollution during pregnancy is associated with sub-optimal fetal growth in Brisbane.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)383-389
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished or Issued - Mar 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Air pollution
  • Birth weight
  • Crown-heel length
  • Head circumference
  • Pregnancy
  • Small for gestational age

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Environmental Science(all)

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