Air Pollution, Land Use, and Complications of Pregnancy

Sci Total Environ. 2018 Dec 15;645:1057-1064. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.07.237. Epub 2018 Jul 20.


Background: Mounting evidence suggests that the natural and built environment can affect human health, but relatively few studies have considered links between features of the residential natural and built environment other than air pollution and complications of pregnancy.

Objectives: To quantify the impact of features of the maternal residential natural and built environments on risk of gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM), gestational hypertension and preeclampsia among 61,640 women who delivered at a single hospital in Rhode Island between 2002 and 2012.

Methods: We estimated residential levels of ambient fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and black carbon (BC) using spatiotemporal models, neighborhood green space using remote sensing and proximity to recreational facilities, and neighborhood blue space using distance to coastal and fresh water. We used logistic regression to separately estimate the association between each feature and GDM, gestational hypertension, and preeclampsia, adjusting for individual and neighborhood markers of socioeconomic status.

Results: GDM, gestational hypertension, and preeclampsia were diagnosed in 8.0%, 5.0%, and 3.6% of women, respectively. We found 2nd trimester PM2.5 (OR = 1.08, 95% CI: 1.00, 1.15 per interquartile range increase in PM2.5) and living close to a major roadway (1.09, 95% CI: 1.00, 1.19) were associated with higher odds of GDM, while living <1 km from the coast was associated with lower odds of GDM (0.87, 95% CI: 0.78, 0.96). Living <500 m from a recreational facility was associated with lower odds of gestational hypertension (0.89, 95% CI: 0.80, 0.99). None of these features were associated with odds of preeclampsia. Results were qualitatively similar in mutually-adjusted models and sensitivity analyses.

Conclusions: In this small coastal US state, risk of GDM was positively associated with PM2.5 and proximity to busy roadways, and negatively associated with proximity to blue space, highlighting the importance of the natural and built environment to maternal health.

Keywords: Air pollution; Blue space; Gestational diabetes; Green space; NDVI; Pregnancy-induced hypertension.

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants / analysis
  • Air Pollution / statistics & numerical data*
  • Diabetes, Gestational / epidemiology
  • Environmental Exposure / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Maternal Exposure / statistics & numerical data*
  • Particulate Matter / analysis
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / epidemiology*
  • Rhode Island / epidemiology


  • Air Pollutants
  • Particulate Matter