Prenatal, Early-Life, and Childhood Exposure to Air Pollution and Lung Function: The ALSPAC Cohort

Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2020 Jul 1;202(1):112-123. doi: 10.1164/rccm.201902-0286OC.


Rationale: Exposure to air pollution during intrauterine development and through childhood may have lasting effects on respiratory health.Objectives: To investigate lung function at ages 8 and 15 years in relation to air pollution exposures during pregnancy, infancy, and childhood in a UK population-based birth cohort.Methods: Individual exposures to source-specific particulate matter ≤10 μm in aerodynamic diameter (PM10) during each trimester, 0-6 months, 7-12 months (1990-1993), and up to age 15 years (1991-2008) were examined in relation to FEV1% predicted and FVC% predicted at ages 8 (n = 5,276) and 15 (n = 3,446) years using linear regression models adjusted for potential confounders. A profile regression model was used to identify sensitive time periods.Measurements and Main Results: We did not find clear evidence of a sensitive exposure period for PM10 from road traffic. At age 8 years, 1 μg/m3 higher exposure during the first trimester was associated with lower FEV1% predicted (-0.826; 95% confidence interval [CI], -1.357 to -0.296) and FVC% predicted (-0.817; 95% CI, -1.357 to -0.276), but similar associations were seen for exposures for other trimesters, 0-6 months, 7-12 months, and 0-7 years. Associations were stronger among boys, as well as children whose mother had a lower education level or smoked during pregnancy. For PM10 from all sources, the third trimester was associated with lower FVC% predicted (-1.312; 95% CI, -2.100 to -0.525). At age 15 years, no adverse associations with lung function were seen.Conclusions: Exposure to road-traffic PM10 during pregnancy may result in small but significant reductions in lung function at age 8 years.

Keywords: ALSPAC; air pollution; children; respiratory health; traffic.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Air Pollutants / toxicity*
  • Air Pollution / adverse effects*
  • Air Pollution / analysis
  • Air Pollution / statistics & numerical data
  • Child
  • Child Health
  • Child, Preschool
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Environmental Exposure / analysis
  • Environmental Exposure / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Forced Expiratory Volume
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Linear Models
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Lung / drug effects*
  • Lung / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Particulate Matter / toxicity*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / chemically induced*
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / diagnosis
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / epidemiology
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology
  • Vehicle Emissions / analysis
  • Vehicle Emissions / toxicity
  • Vital Capacity


  • Air Pollutants
  • Particulate Matter
  • Vehicle Emissions