Air pollution during the perinatal period and neurodevelopment in children: A national population study in Taiwan

Dev Med Child Neurol. 2023 Jun;65(6):783-791. doi: 10.1111/dmcn.15430. Epub 2022 Nov 9.


Aim: To evaluate the association between ambient particulate matter no larger than 2.5 μm in diameter (PM2.5 ) during the prenatal and postnatal periods and infant neurodevelopmental parameters.

Method: We conducted a population-based birth cohort study using the Taiwan Birth Cohort Study. Participants were assessed for developmental conditions through home interviews at 6 months and 18 months of age. Exposure to PM2.5 of mothers and infants during perinatal periods was estimated using hybrid kriging/land-use regression. The exposure was linked to each participant by home address. Logistic regression was then conducted to determine the risk of neurodevelopmental delay in relation to PM2.5 .

Results: A total of 17 683 term singletons without congenital malformations were included in the final analysis. PM2.5 during the second trimester was associated with increased risks of delays in gross motor neurodevelopmental milestones (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 1.09 per 10 μg/m3 increase in exposure to PM2.5 ). Delayed fine motor development was also found to be related to exposure to PM2.5 in the second and third trimesters (aOR 1.06), as was personal-social skill (aOR 1.11 for the second trimester and 1.06 for the third). These neurodevelopmental parameters were unrelated to postnatal PM2.5 exposure.

Interpretation: Exposure to ambient PM2.5 during pregnancy was significantly related to delay in gross motor, fine motor, and personal-social development in this population-based study.

What this paper adds: Prenatal exposure to higher PM2.5 was associated with increased risk of delayed early neurodevelopment. The critical period for delayed gross motor development was the second trimester. The critical period for fine motor and personal-social development was the second and third trimesters.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Air Pollutants* / adverse effects
  • Air Pollution* / adverse effects
  • Child Development* / drug effects
  • Developmental Disabilities* / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Logistic Models
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Maternal Exposure* / adverse effects
  • Particulate Matter / adverse effects
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects* / epidemiology
  • Taiwan / epidemiology


  • Air Pollutants
  • Particulate Matter