Green CURIOCITY: a study protocol for a European birth cohort study analysing childhood heat-related health impacts and protective effects of urban natural environments

BMJ Open. 2022 Jan 24;12(1):e052537. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2021-052537.


Introduction: The European climate is getting warmer and the impact on childhood health and development is insufficiently understood. Equally, how heat-related health risks can be reduced through nature-based solutions, such as exposure to urban natural environments, is unknown. Green CURe In Outdoor CITY spaces (Green CURIOCITY) will analyse how heat exposure during pregnancy affects birth outcomes and how long-term heat exposure may influence children's neurodevelopment. We will also investigate if adverse effects can be mitigated by urban natural environments. A final goal is to visualise intraurban patterns of heat vulnerability and assist planning towards healthier cities.

Methods and analysis: We will use existing data from the Human Early-Life Exposure cohort, which includes information on birth outcomes and neurodevelopment from six European birth cohorts. The cohort is linked to data on prenatal heat exposure and impact on birth outcomes will be analysed with logistic regression models, adjusting for air pollution and noise and sociobehavioural covariates. Similarly, impact of cumulative and immediate heat exposure on neurodevelopmental outcomes at age 5 will be assessed. For both analyses, the potentially moderating impact of natural environments will be quantified. For visualisation, Geographical information systems data will be combined to develop vulnerability maps, demonstrating urban 'hot spots' where the risk of negative impacts of heat is aggravated due to sociodemographic and land use patterns. Finally, geospatial and meteorological data will be used for informing GreenUr, an existing software prototype developed by the WHO Regional Office for Europe to quantify health impacts and augment policy tools for urban green space planning.

Ethics and dissemination: The protocol was approved by the Comité Ético de Investigación Clínica Parc de Salut MAR, Spain. Findings will be published in peer-reviewed journals and presented at policy events. Through stakeholder engagement, the results will also reach user groups and practitioners.

Keywords: community child health; epidemiology; preventive medicine; public health.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollution
  • Birth Cohort
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cities
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Hot Temperature* / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Parks, Recreational*
  • Pregnancy