Background: Recent studies suggest that prenatal exposure to outdoor air pollution is associated with unfavorable neurodevelopment in children. We examined associations between prenatal exposure to traffic-related air pollution and child behavioral development milestone delays, using data from a nationwide population-based longitudinal survey in Japan, where the participants were recruited in 2001 and followed. Methods: Particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide, and sulfur dioxide concentrations during the 9 months before birth were obtained at the municipality level and assigned to the participants who were born in the corresponding municipality. We analyzed data from singleton births with linked pollution data available (N = 33,911 at the maximum). We used responses to survey questions about age-appropriate behaviors at ages 2.5 and 5.5 years as indicators of behavioral development. We conducted multilevel logistic regression analysis, adjusting for individual and municipality-level variables. Results: Air pollution exposure during gestation was positively associated with the risk of some developmental milestone delays at both ages. Specifically, air pollution was associated with verbal and fine motor development at age 2.5 years, and with behaviors related to inhibition and impulsivity at 5.5 years. In the fully-adjusted models, odds ratios following one-interquartile-range increase in nitrogen dioxide and suspended particulate matter were 1.24 (95% confidence interval: 1.07, 1.43) for inability to compose a two-phrase sentence at ages 2.5 and 1.10 (1.05, 1.16) for inability to express emotions at age 5.5 years, respectively. Conclusions: Prenatal exposure to traffic-related air pollution was associated with behavioral development milestone delays of children in a nationally representative sample in Japan.
ASJC Scopus subject areas