Maternal exposure to nitrogen dioxide during pregnancy and offspring birth weight: comparison of two exposure models

Environ Health Perspect. 2010 Oct;118(10):1483-9. doi: 10.1289/ehp.0901509. Epub 2010 May 14.


Background: Studies of the effects of air pollutants on birth weight often assess exposure with networks of permanent air quality monitoring stations (AQMSs), which have a poor spatial resolution.

Objective: We aimed to compare the exposure model based on the nearest AQMS and a temporally adjusted geostatistical (TAG) model with a finer spatial resolution, for use in pregnancy studies.

Methods: The AQMS and TAG exposure models were implemented in two areas surrounding medium-size cities in which 776 pregnant women were followed as part of the EDEN mother-child cohort. The exposure models were compared in terms of estimated nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels and of their association with birth weight.

Results: The correlations between the two estimates of exposure during the first trimester of pregnancy were r = 0.67, 0.70, and 0.83 for women living within 5, 2, and 1 km of an AQMS, respectively. Exposure patterns displayed greater spatial than temporal variations. Exposure during the first trimester of pregnancy was most strongly associated with birth weight for women living < 2 km away from an AQMS: a 10-µg/m3 increase in NO2 exposure was associated with an adjusted difference in birth weight of -37 g [95% confidence interval (CI), -75 to 1 g] for the nearest-AQMS model and of -51 g (95% CI, -128 to 26 g) for the TAG model. The association was less strong (higher p-value) for women living within 5 or 1 km of an AQMS.

Conclusions: The two exposure models tended to give consistent results in terms of association with birth weight, despite the moderate concordance between exposure estimates.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Birth Weight / drug effects*
  • Female
  • France
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Maternal Exposure*
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Nitrogen Dioxide / toxicity*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Trimester, First


  • Nitrogen Dioxide