Objective: Our goal was to evaluate the relationship between cause-specific postneonatal infant mortality and chronic early-life exposure to particulate matter and gaseous air pollutants across the United States.
Methods: We linked county-specific monitoring data for particles with aerodiameter of < or = 2.5 microm (PM2.5) and < or = 10 microm (PM10), ozone, sulfur dioxide, and carbon monoxide to birth and death records for infants born from 1999 to 2002 in U.S. counties with > 250,000 residents. For each infant, we calculated the average concentration of each pollutant over the first 2 months of life. We used logistic generalized estimating equations to estimate odds ratios of postneonatal mortality for all causes, respiratory causes, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), and all other causes for each pollutant, controlling for individual maternal factors (race, marital status, education, age, and primiparity), percentage of county population below poverty, region, birth month, birth year, and other pollutants. This analysis includes about 3.5 million births, with 6,639 postneonatal infant deaths.
Results: After adjustment for demographic and other factors and for other pollutants, we found adjusted odds ratios of 1.16 [95% confidence interval (CI), 1.06-1.27] for a 10-mug/m3 increase in PM10 for respiratory causes and 1.20 (95% CI, 1.09-1.32) for a 10-ppb increase in ozone and deaths from SIDS. We did not find relationships with other pollutants and for other causes of death (control category).
Conclusions: This study supports particulate matter air pollution being a risk factor for respiratory-related postneonatal mortality and suggests that ozone may be associated with SIDS in the United States.
Keywords: carbon monoxide; ozone; particulate matter air pollution; postneonatal infant mortality; respiratory-related deaths; sudden infant death syndrome; sulfur dioxide.