Ambient air pollution during pregnancy and risk of gestational diabetes in New York City

Environ Res. 2019 Aug;175:414-420. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2019.04.030. Epub 2019 May 24.


Background: Emerging evidence suggests a potential association between ambient air pollution and risk of gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM), but results have been inconsistent. Accordingly, we assessed the associations between ambient fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels with risk of GDM.

Methods: Using linked data from birth certificates, hospital discharge diagnoses, and air pollution estimates informed by the New York City Community Air Survey, we fit conditional logistic regression models to evaluate the association between residential levels of PM2.5 and NO2 with risk of GDM among 256,372 singleton live births of non-smoking mothers in New York City born 2008-2010, adjusting for sociodemographic factors and stratified on zip code of maternal address.

Results: GDM was identified in 17,065 women, yielding a risk of GDM in the study sample of 67 per 1000 deliveries. In single pollutant models, 1st and 2nd trimester PM2.5 was associated with a lower and higher risk of GDM, respectively. In models mutually adjusting for PM2.5 levels in both trimesters, GDM was associated with PM2.5 levels in the 2nd trimester (OR: 1.06, 95% CI: 1.02, 1.10 per interquartile range increase in PM2.5), but not the 1st trimester (OR: 0.99, 95% CI: 0.96, 1.02). Conversely, GDM was associated with NO2 during the 1st trimester (OR: 1.05, 95% CI: 1.01, 1.09), but not the 2nd trimester (OR: 1.02, 95% CI: 0.98, 1.06). The positive associations between pollutants and GDM were robust to different model specifications. PM2.5 in the 2nd trimester was more strongly associated with GDM among mothers who were aged <35 years and not Medicaid recipients. NO2 in the 1st trimester was more strongly associated with GDM among overweight and parous women.

Conclusions: In this large cohort of singleton births in New York City, NO2 in the 1st trimester and PM2.5 in the 2nd trimester were associated with higher odds of GDM, while 1st trimester PM2.5 was weakly and inconsistently associated with lower odds of GDM.

Keywords: Air pollution; Fine particulate matter; Gestational diabetes; Nitrogen dioxide.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Air Pollutants*
  • Air Pollution / statistics & numerical data*
  • Diabetes, Gestational / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Maternal Exposure / statistics & numerical data*
  • New York City / epidemiology
  • Nitrogen Dioxide
  • Particulate Matter
  • Pregnancy


  • Air Pollutants
  • Particulate Matter
  • Nitrogen Dioxide