Potential influence of temperature and precipitation on preterm birth rate in Puerto Rico

Sci Rep. 2018 Oct 31;8(1):16106. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-34179-z.


The preterm birth (PTB) rate for singletons born in the tropical Caribbean island Puerto Rico increased from 11.3% in 1994, which was comparable to rates in the U.S., to as high as 18.3% in 2006 before decreasing to 15.5% in 2012. A few studies have reported that weather extremes are associated with higher risk of preterm birth, however, the effects of ambient temperature and precipitation has not been well examined in Puerto Rico. We compiled child birth data from the National Center for Health Statistics and weather data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration from 1994 to 2012. We explored the association between the weather factors and PTB rates with a distributed lag non-linear model (DLNM). We did not find direct association of lagged effect of temperature on birth outcome over monthly timescales. Both high intensity and frequency of precipitation and high frequency of storm and flood events are associated with increased risk of PTB rates. While the weather factors do not explain the marked increase and decrease in PTB rate, we emphasize the negative effects on PTB from weather extremes particularly precipitation in Puerto Rico.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Geography
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Pregnancy
  • Premature Birth / epidemiology*
  • Puerto Rico / epidemiology
  • Rain*
  • Risk
  • Temperature*