Relationship between birth weight and exposure to airborne fine particulate potassium and titanium during gestation

Environ Res. 2012 Aug;117:83-9. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2012.05.004. Epub 2012 Jun 16.


Airborne particles are linked to numerous health impacts, including adverse pregnancy outcomes. Most studies of particles examined total mass, although the chemical structure of particles varies widely. We investigated whether mother's exposure to potassium (K) and titanium (Ti) components of airborne fine particulate matter (PM(2.5)) during pregnancy was associated with birth weight or risk of low birth weight (<2500 g) for term infants. The study population was 76,788 infants born in four counties in Connecticut and Massachusetts, US, for August 2000-February 2004. Both K and Ti were associated with birth weight. An interquartile range (IQR) increase K was associated with an 8.75% (95% confidence interval (CI): 1.24-16.8%) increase in risk of low birth weight. An IQR increase in Ti was associated with a 12.1% (95% CI: 3.55-21.4%) increase in risk of low birth weight, with an estimate of 6.41% (95% CI: -5.80-20.2%) for males and 16.4% (95% CI: 5.13-28.9%) for females. Results were robust to sensitivity analysis of first births only, but not adjustment by co-pollutants. Disentangling the effects of various chemical components is challenging because of the covariance among some components due to similar sources. Central effect estimates for infants of African-American mothers were higher than those of white mothers, although the confidence intervals overlapped. Our results indicate that exposure to airborne potassium and titanium during pregnancy is associated with lower birth weight. Associations may relate to chemical components of sources producing K and Ti.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • African Americans
  • Air Pollutants / analysis
  • Air Pollutants / toxicity*
  • Birth Weight / drug effects*
  • Birth Weight / physiology
  • Connecticut
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Massachusetts
  • Particulate Matter / analysis
  • Particulate Matter / toxicity*
  • Potassium / analysis
  • Potassium / toxicity*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / chemically induced*
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / physiopathology
  • Risk Assessment
  • Titanium / analysis
  • Titanium / toxicity*
  • Whites


  • Air Pollutants
  • Particulate Matter
  • Titanium
  • Potassium