High ambient temperature and the risk of preterm delivery

Am J Epidemiol. 2010 Nov 15;172(10):1108-17. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwq170. Epub 2010 Oct 1.


With temperatures expected to increase because of climate change, it is essential to study the health outcomes of elevated temperature in vulnerable populations, such as expectant mothers. In this study, the authors estimated the association between heat and humidity, as measured by apparent temperature, and preterm delivery. They conducted a case-crossover analysis of almost 60,000 births spanning 16 counties in California that occurred from 1999 to 2006 between May and September. The authors identified cases of preterm birth from a state registry of births, which were combined with meteorologic and air pollution monitoring data based on residential zip code. High ambient temperature was significantly associated with preterm birth for all mothers, regardless of maternal racial/ethnic group, maternal age, maternal education, or sex of the infant. Results indicated that an 8.6% increase (95% confidence interval: 6.0, 11.3) in preterm delivery was associated with a 10°F (5.6°C) increase in weekly average (lag06) apparent temperature. Greater associations were observed for younger mothers, blacks, and Asians. These associations were independent of air pollutants. Given the significant associations for apparent temperature and preterm delivery found in this study, more large-scale studies of temperature and preterm delivery are warranted.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Birth Certificates
  • California / epidemiology
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Female
  • Hot Temperature / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Maternal Age
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome / epidemiology*
  • Pregnancy Outcome / ethnology
  • Premature Birth / epidemiology*
  • Premature Birth / ethnology
  • Premature Birth / etiology
  • Young Adult