An external exposome-wide association study of hypertensive disorders of pregnancy

Environ Int. 2020 Aug;141:105797. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2020.105797. Epub 2020 May 12.


It is widely recognized that exogenous factors play an important role in the development of hypertensive disorders of pregnancy (HDP). However, only a few external environmental factors have been studied, often separately, with no attempt to examine the totality of the external environment, or the external exposome. We conducted an external exposome-wide association study (ExWAS) using the Florida Vital Statistics Birth Records including 819,399 women with live births in 2010-2013. A total of 5784 factors characterizing women's surrounding natural, built, and social environment during pregnancy from 10 data sources were collected, harmonized, integrated, and spatiotemporally linked to the women based on pregnancy periods using 250 m buffers around their geocoded residential addresses. A random 50:50 split divided the data into discovery and replication sets, and a 3-phase procedure was used. In phase 1, associations between HDP and individual factors were examined, and Bonferroni adjustment was performed. In phase 2, an elastic net model was used to perform variable selection among significant variables from phase 1. In phase 3, a multivariable logistic regression model including all variables selected by the elastic net model was fitted. Variables that were significant in both the discovery and replication sets were retained. Among the 528 and 490 variables identified in Phase 1, 232 and 224 were selected by the elastic net model in Phase 2, and 67 and 48 variables remained statistically significant in Phase 3 in the discovery and replication sets, respectively. A total of 12 variables were significant in both the discovery and replication sets, including air toxicants (e.g., 2,2,4-trimethylpentane), meteorological factors (e.g., omega or vertical velocity at 125mb pressure level), neighborhood crime and safety (e.g., burglary rate), and neighborhood sociodemographic status (e.g., urbanization). This is the first large external exposome study of HDP. It confirmed some of the previously reported associations and generated unexpected predictors within the environment that may warrant more focused evaluation.

Keywords: Exposome; Hypertensive disorders of pregnancy; Preeclampsia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Exposome
  • Female
  • Florida / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Hypertension, Pregnancy-Induced* / epidemiology
  • Hypertension, Pregnancy-Induced* / etiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Residence Characteristics