Impact of air pollution on women’s health and birth outcomes

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A new study suggests a possible link between air pollution and Type 2 diabetes that could result in potential adverse birth outcomes in pregnant women.

The study – covering over 228,000 deliveries among more than 208,000 women – shows a link between exposure to EPA-regulated air pollutants by women just prior to conception or in the early stages of pregnancy and an increased risk of subsequent gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM), which may adversely impact birth outcomes.

Average maternal exposures to particulate matter in the air, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and ozone were estimated for the three-month preconception period, first trimester and gestational weeks 1-24 based on modified EPA Community Multiscale Air Quality models for the different regions studied.
Candace Robledo UNTHSC
The study by Candace Robledo, PhD, MPH, Assistant Professor of Behavioral and Community Health in the UNT Health Science Center’s School of Public Health, and her colleagues, was published in Environmental Research. The team reviewed labor and delivery statistics from 12 clinical medical centers and 19 hospitals within different regions across the United States.

The study used data collected during the Consortium on Safe Labor (2002-2008), an initiative of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

The report concluded that preconception maternal exposure to nitrogen oxides and sulphur dioxide, in particular, provided a higher risk for GDM, especially during the first trimester, and that risks from other ozone exposures seemed to increase later in pregnancy. The researchers recommended further investigation into these common exposures on women’s health.

Dr. Robledo serves as Master of Public Health Director of the school’s Maternal and Child Health concentration. She is a reproductive and perinatal epidemiologist, focused on maternal and child health, environmental epidemiology and health disparities research. Dr. Robledo has completed two fellowships through the National Institutes of Health Intramural Research Training Award program of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

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