Maternal exposure to air pollutants during the first trimester and foetal growth in Japanese term infants

Takehiro Michikawa, Seiichi Morokuma, Kotaro Fukushima, Kiyoko Kato, Hiroshi Nitta, Shin Yamazaki

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26 Citations (Scopus)


Evidence supporting an inverse association between maternal exposure to air pollutants and foetal growth has been accumulating. However, the findings from Asian populations are limited, and the question of critical windows of exposure remains unanswered. We examined whether maternal exposure to air pollutants, in particular exposure during the first trimester (an important period of placental development), was associated with foetal growth in Japanese term infants. From the Japan Perinatal Registry Network database, we received birth data for 29,177 term singleton births in western Japan (Kyushu-Okinawa Districts) between 2005 and 2010. Exposure was expressed in terms of average concentrations of air pollutants (ozone, suspended particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide, and sulphur dioxide), as measured at the nearest monitoring stations to the respective delivery hospitals of the pregnant women, during the entire pregnancy and each trimester. As proxy markers of foetal growth restriction, we used small for gestational age (SGA), and adverse birth weight (low birth weight in addition to SGA). For pollutant exposure during the entire pregnancy, we did not observe the association with SGA and adverse birth weight. In the single-trimester model for the first trimester, however, we found a positive association between ozone exposure, and SGA (odds ratio [OR] per 10 ppb increase = 1.07, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.01–1.12) and adverse birth weight (OR = 1.07; 95% CI = 1.01–1.14). This association persisted in the multi-trimester model, and no association for exposure during the second or third trimester was observed. Exposure to other pollutants during each trimester was not associated with these outcomes. In conclusion, maternal exposure to ozone during the first trimester was independently associated with an elevated risk of poor foetal growth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)387-393
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Publication statusPublished - 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Toxicology
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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