Background: Exposure to ionizing radiation has been associated with insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. In light of recent work showing an association between ambient particulate matter (PM) gross β-activity and gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) among pregnant women, we examined pregnancy glucose levels in relation to PM gross β-activity to better understand this pathway.
Methods: Our study included 103 participants receiving prenatal care at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, MA. PM gross β-activity was obtained from US Environmental Protection Agency's RadNet program monitors, and blood glucose levels were obtained from the non-fasting glucose challenge test performed clinically as the first step of the 2-step GDM screening test. For each exposure window we examined (i.e., moving average same-day, one-week, first-trimester, and second-trimester PM gross β-activity), we fitted generalized additive models and adjusted for clinical characteristics, socio-demographic factors, temporal variables, and PM with an aerodynamic diameter ≤ 2.5 μm (PM2.5). Subgroup analyses by maternal age and by body mass index were also conducted.
Results: An interquartile range increase in average PM gross β-activity during the second trimester of pregnancy was associated with an increase of 17.5 (95% CI: 0.8, 34.3) mg/dL in glucose concentration. Associations were stronger among younger and overweight/obese participants. Our findings also suggest that the highest compared to the lowest quartile of one-week exposure was associated with 17.0 (95% CI: - 4.0, 38.0) mg/dL higher glucose levels. No associations of glucose were observed with PM gross β-activity during same-day and first-trimester exposure windows. PM2.5 was not associated with glucose levels during any exposure window in our data.
Conclusions: Exposure to higher levels of ambient PM gross β-activity was associated with higher blood glucose levels in pregnant patients, with implications for how this novel environmental factor could impact pregnancy health.
Keywords: Blood glucose; Gestational diabetes; Glucose metabolism; Particle radioactivity; Pregnancy; Pregnancy complications.