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Air Pollution May Adversely Affect Fetal Growth

Exposure to particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide linked to small-for-gestational-age births

THURSDAY, April 9 (HealthDay News) -- Fetal growth may be adversely affected by exposure to ambient air pollution, especially in women living near high-traffic roadways, according to research published online April 8 in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

David Q. Rich, of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, School of Public Health in Piscataway, N.J., and colleagues analyzed data on 350,107 births, including 27,943 small-for-gestational-age births and 7,773 very small-for-gestational-age births.

The researchers found that the risk of small-for-gestational-age birth was associated with exposure to particulate matter of <2.5 μm in diameter during the first and third trimesters, and that the risk of very small-for-gestational-age birth was also associated with exposure to nitrogen dioxide during all three trimesters.

"Future work to examine associations between pregnancy exposure to specific particulate matter components/sources and adverse birth outcomes, and/or to examine more powerfully the role of pregnancy complications as effect modifiers of this association or as outcomes themselves, are needed," the authors conclude.

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