The association between ambient air pollution and selected adverse pregnancy outcomes in China: A systematic review

Sci Total Environ. 2017 Feb 1;579:1179-1192. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.11.100. Epub 2016 Nov 29.


The association between exposure to ambient air pollution and respiratory or cardiovascular endpoints is well-established. An increasing number of studies have shown that this exposure is also associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes. However, the majority of research has been undertaken in high-income western countries, with relatively lower levels of exposure. There is now a sufficient number of studies to warrant an assessment of effects in China, a relatively higher exposure setting. We conducted a systematic review of 25 studies examining the association between ambient air pollution exposure and adverse pregnancy outcomes (lower birth weight, preterm birth, mortality, and congenital anomaly) in China, published between 1980 and 2015. The results indicated that sulphur dioxide (SO2) was more consistently associated with lower birth weight and preterm birth, and that coarse particulate matter (PM10) was associated with congenital anomaly, notably cardiovascular defects.

Keywords: Birth defects; Congenital anomaly; Low birth weight; Mortality; Pollution; Preterm birth.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants / analysis
  • Air Pollution / statistics & numerical data*
  • China / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Low Birth Weight
  • Maternal Exposure / statistics & numerical data*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome / epidemiology*
  • Premature Birth / epidemiology


  • Air Pollutants