Background: Previous studies have shown that ambient air pollution exposure can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) significantly. In consideration of the common underlying pathophysiologic mechanisms, exposure to air pollution may also increase the risk of gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM), but the current evidence was inconsistent and has not well been systematically reviewed. Our goal was to perform a systematic review and meta-analysis assessing the association between air pollution exposure and GDM.
Methods: An extensive literature search was conducted in selected electronic databases for related human epidemiological studies published in English language. Summary effect estimates were calculated using random-effect models for a) risk per unit increase in continuous air pollutant concentration and b) risk of high versus low exposure level in individual study if each exposure that had been examined in ≥2 studies. We evaluated the heterogeneity using Cochran's Q test and quantified it by I2 statistic. Publication bias was also evaluated through the funnel plot when sufficient number of studies are available.
Results: A total of 11 studies evaluating the association between GDM and exposure to air pollution were identified finally. The summary odds ratio (OR) for incidence of GDM following a 10 μg/m3 increase in PM2.5 exposure during the second trimester was 1.04 (95% Confidence Interval (CI): 1.01, 1.09) and in NOx during the first trimester was 1.03 (95%CI: 1.00, 1.07) per 10 ppb increase, while for high versus low SO2 exposure during the second trimester was 1.25 (95%CI: 1.02, 1.53). High heterogeneity among study-specific results in majority of the analyses were observed, and attributed to different exposure assessment methods, populations, study locations, and covariates adjustment. Publication bias cannot be excluded because of the inclusion of small number of studies.
Conclusions: The present study supports the evidence that air pollution exposure increases the risk the GDM, albeit the existence of high heterogeneity. Further studies are necessary to elaborate the suggestive associations. These results are of public health significance since worsening air pollution in developing countries has been expected to increase the risk of GDM development.
Keywords: Air pollution; Gestational diabetes mellitus; Meta-analysis; Systematic review.
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