Background: The effects of ambient air pollution on pregnancy outcomes are under debate. Previous studies have used different air pollution exposure assessment methods. The considerable traffic-related intra-urban spatial variation needs to be considered in exposure assessment. Residential proximity to traffic is a proxy for traffic-related exposures that takes into account within-city contrasts.
Methods: We investigated the association between residential proximity to traffic and various birth and pregnancy outcomes in 7,339 pregnant women and their children participating in a population-based cohort study. Residential proximity to traffic was defined as 1) distance-weighted traffic density in a 150 meter radius, and 2) proximity to a major road. We estimated associations of these exposures with birth weight, and with the risks of preterm birth and small size for gestational age at birth. Additionally, we examined associations with pregnancy-induced hypertension, (pre)eclampsia, and gestational diabetes.
Results: There was considerable variation in distance-weighted traffic density. Almost fifteen percent of the participants lived within 50 m of a major road. Residential proximity to traffic was not associated with birth and pregnancy outcomes in the main analysis and in various sensitivity analyses.
Conclusions: Mothers exposed to residential traffic had no higher risk of adverse birth outcomes or pregnancy complications in this study. Future studies may be refined by taking both temporal and spatial variation in air pollution exposure into account.