Urban-Related Environmental Exposures during Pregnancy and Placental Development and Preeclampsia: a Review

Curr Hypertens Rep. 2020 Sep 3;22(10):81. doi: 10.1007/s11906-020-01088-4.


Purpose of review: To summarize the current knowledge of the pathophysiological implications and the clinical role of urban-related environmental exposures in pregnancy.

Recent findings: The ongoing urbanization worldwide is leading to an increasing number of pregnant women being exposed to higher levels of urban-related environmental hazards such as air pollution and noise and, at the same time, having less contact with natural environments. Pregnancy represents a particular and vulnerable life period both for women and their children. Extensive physiological and metabolic changes, as well as changes to the cardiovascular and respiratory systems during pregnancy, could result in increased sensitivity to damage by environmental factors. Exposure to air pollution and noise is associated with placental dysfunction and damage, which, in turn, could lead to maternal complications such as preeclampsia. In contrast, more contact with greenspace during pregnancy seems to mitigate these adverse impacts. These findings open up new challenges for our understanding of the potential effect of urban living on placental function and preeclampsia, and offer new clinical and research opportunities.

Keywords: Air pollution; Environmental exposure; Greenspaces; Noise; Placental dysfunction; Preeclampsia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants*
  • Child
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertension*
  • Placentation
  • Pre-Eclampsia* / etiology
  • Pregnancy


  • Air Pollutants