Exposure to traffic and early life respiratory infection: A cohort study

Pediatr Pulmonol. 2015 Mar;50(3):252-259. doi: 10.1002/ppul.23029. Epub 2014 Mar 27.


We examined whether proximity to a major roadway and traffic density around the home during pregnancy are associated with risk of early life respiratory infection in a pre-birth cohort in the Boston area. We geocoded addresses for 1,263 mother-child pairs enrolled during the first trimester of pregnancy in Project Viva during 1999-2002. We calculated distance from home to nearest major roadway and traffic density in a 100 m buffer around the home. We defined respiratory infection as maternal report of ≥1 doctor-diagnosed pneumonia, bronchiolitis, croup, or other respiratory infection from birth until the early childhood visit (median age 3.3). We used relative risk regression models adjusting for potential confounders to estimate associations between traffic exposures and risk of respiratory infection. Distance to roadway during pregnancy was associated with risk of respiratory infection. In fully adjusted models, relative risks (95% CI) for respiratory infection were: 1.30 (1.08, 1.55) for <100 m, 1.15 (0.93, 1.41) for 100 to <200 m, and 0.95 (0.84, 1.07) for 200 to <1,000 m compared with living ≥1,000 m away from a major roadway. Each interquartile range increase in distance to roadway was associated with an 8% (95% CI 0.87, 0.98) lower risk, and each interquartile range increase in traffic density was associated with a 5% (95% CI 0.98, 1.13) higher risk of respiratory infection. Our findings suggest that living close to a major roadway during pregnancy may predispose the developing lung to infection in early life. Pediatr Pulmonol. 2015; 50:252-259. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Keywords: air pollution; environmental lung disease; epidemiology; prenatal exposures; respiratory infection; traffic.