Meteorological variables and the risk of fractures: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Sci Total Environ. 2019 Oct 1:685:1030-1041. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.06.281. Epub 2019 Jun 20.


Purpose: The association between meteorological variables and risk of fractures has attracted increasing attentions but remain controversial. Therefore, our main aim is to clarify the association, and also to identify possible susceptible groups.

Methods: Relevant literature was obtained through standard MeSH literature searching seven electronic databases. Because some studies expressed the association as the rate of incidence (IRR) of fractures associated with each 1 °C rise in temperature and 1% increase in relative humidity (RH), some expressed as IRR of fractures for the day with specific climatic variable versus control days, and also the association was expressed as correlations coefficients (COR) in some studies, separated meta-analyses were undertaken, with one based on IRR and another based on COR.

Results: A total of 24 studies were included. Results showed that each 1 °C increase was significantly associated with a 3.0% decrease in fracture risk (IRR = 0.970, 95%CI: 0.952-0.988). The day with freezing rain and snow were associated with increased risk for both the lower extremity fracture (freezing rain: IRR = 1.174, 95%CI: 1.022-1.348; snow: IRR = 1.245, 95%CI: 1.050-1.477) and the upper extremity fracture (freezing rain: IRR = 1.376, 95%CI: 1.192-1.588; snow: IRR = 1.548, 95%CI: 1.361-1.761). No significant association was detected between RH, dew, frost, fog, storm and high wind, and fracture. The COR meta-analysis showed that mean temperature (moderately), maximum temperature (moderately), rainfall (weakly) and sunlight duration (weakly) were correlated with fracture occurrence.

Conclusion: The incidence of fractures was increased in lower temperature, the day with freezing rain, and snow. Other meteorological factors may have some effects on the incidence of fracture. The association maybe stronger for males, lower extremity fracture, and people living in Asia, subtropical zone, low-latitude, and northern hemisphere. Further studies are needed.

Keywords: Fracture; Meta-analysis; Meteorological variables; Vulnerable populations.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Environmental Exposure / statistics & numerical data*
  • Fractures, Bone / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Meteorological Concepts*