Surrounding greenness and pregnancy outcomes in four Spanish birth cohorts

Environ Health Perspect. 2012 Oct;120(10):1481-7. doi: 10.1289/ehp.1205244. Epub 2012 Aug 16.


Background: Green spaces have been associated with improved physical and mental health; however, the available evidence on the impact of green spaces on pregnancy is scarce.

Objectives: We investigated the association between surrounding greenness and birth weight, head circumference, and gestational age at delivery.

Methods: This study was based on 2,393 singleton live births from four Spanish birth cohorts (Asturias, Gipuzkoa, Sabadell, and Valencia) located in two regions of the Iberian Peninsula with distinct climates and vegetation patterns (2003-2008). We defined surrounding greenness as average of satellite-based Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) (Landsat 4-5 TM data at 30 m × 30 m resolution) during 2007 in buffers of 100 m, 250 m, and 500 m around each maternal place of residence. Separate linear mixed models with adjustment for potential confounders and a random cohort effect were used to estimate the change in birth weight, head circumference, and gestational age for 1-interquartile range increase in surrounding greenness.

Results: Higher surrounding greenness was associated with increases in birth weight and head circumference [adjusted regression coefficients (95% confidence interval) of 44.2 g (20.2 g, 68.2 g) and 1.7 mm (0.5 mm, 2.9 mm) for an interquartile range increase in average NDVI within a 500-m buffer] but not gestational age. These findings were robust against the choice of the buffer size and the season of data acquisition for surrounding greenness, and when the analysis was limited to term births. Stratified analyses indicated stronger associations among children of mothers with lower education, suggesting greater benefits from surrounding greenness.

Conclusions: Our findings suggest a beneficial impact of surrounding greenness on measures of fetal growth but not pregnancy length.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Birth Weight*
  • Cephalometry*
  • Climate
  • Cohort Studies
  • Environment*
  • Female
  • Gestational Age*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome / epidemiology*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Seasons
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Spain / epidemiology