Association between gaseous ambient air pollutants and adverse pregnancy outcomes in Vancouver, Canada

Environ Health Perspect. 2003 Nov;111(14):1773-8. doi: 10.1289/ehp.6251.


The association between ambient air pollution and adverse health effects, such as emergency room visits, hospitalizations, and mortality from respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, has been studied extensively in many countries, including Canada. Recently, studies conducted in China, the Czech Republic, and the United States have related ambient air pollution to adverse pregnancy outcomes. In this study, we examined association between preterm birth, low birth weight, and intrauterine growth retardation (IUGR) among singleton live births and ambient concentrations of sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), carbon monoxide (CO), and ozone in Vancouver, Canada, for 1985-1998. Multiple logistic regression was used to estimate odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for such effects. Low birth weight was associated with exposure to SO2 during the first month of pregnancy (OR = 1.11, 95% CI, 1.01-1.22, for a 5.0 ppb increase). Preterm birth was associated with exposure to SO2 (OR = 1.09, 95% CI, 1.01-1.19, for a 5.0 ppb increase) and to CO (OR = 1.08, 95% CI, 1.01-1.15, for a 1.0 ppm increase) during the last month of pregnancy. IUGR was associated with exposure to SO2 (OR = 1.07, 95% CI, 1.01-1.13, for a 5.0 ppb increase), to NO2 (OR = 1.05, 95% CI, 1.01-1.10, for a 10.0 ppb increase), and to CO (OR = 1.06, 95% CI, 1.01-1.10, for a 1.0 ppm increase) during the first month of pregnancy. In conclusion, relatively low concentrations of gaseous air pollutants are associated with adverse effects on birth outcomes in populations experiencing diverse air pollution profiles.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Air Pollutants / adverse effects*
  • British Columbia / epidemiology
  • Epidemiologic Studies
  • Female
  • Fetal Growth Retardation / epidemiology
  • Fetal Growth Retardation / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Low Birth Weight*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Obstetric Labor, Premature*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy Complications / etiology*
  • Pregnancy Outcome*


  • Air Pollutants