Residential proximity to major roads and adverse birth outcomes: A hospital-based study

Takashi Yorifuji, Hiroo Naruse, Saori Kashima, Soshi Takao, Takeshi Murakoshi, Hiroyuki Doi, Ichiro Kawachi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Exposure to air pollution has been demonstrated to increase the risk of preterm birth and low birth weight (LBW). Although evidence has accumulated on characteristics associated with increased risk of air pollution-related health effects, most studies have been conducted in the adult population and evidence on reproductive outcomes is limited. We examined whether socio-economic position (SEP) and parental characteristics (parental behavior and co-morbidity) modified the relationship between air pollution and adverse birth outcomes. Methods. Data were extracted from a perinatal hospital database based in Shizuoka, Japan. We restricted the analysis to mothers who delivered live-born single births from January 1997 to December 2010 (n = 16,615). Each birth was assigned proximity to major roads. Multivariate adjusted odds ratios (ORs) and their 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were estimated for the outcomes of preterm birth and term LBW. We stratified subjects by individual/area-level SEP and parental characteristics. We then measured interactions on the additive scale between the respective factors and exposure. Results: Lower SEP at both individual and area levels was associated with the increased occurrence of adverse birth outcomes. Living within 200 m from a major road increased the risk of preterm birth by 1.5 times (95% CI: 1.3-1.9) and LBW by 1.2 times (95% CI: 0.9-1.6). Mothers with lower individual SEP defined by household occupation experienced higher ORs for term LBW (OR = 3.1, 95% CI: 1.2-8.2) compared with those with higher individual SEP. In contrast, mothers who lived in the highest area-level SEP region (i.e., affluent areas) showed slightly higher point estimates compared with those who lived in middle or poor areas. In addition, maternal diabetic and hypertensive status modified the association between proximity and preterm birth, while maternal smoking status modified the association between proximity and term LBW. Conclusions: The present study demonstrated that air pollution is an independent risk factor for adverse birth outcomes. Mothers with lower individual SEP and mothers living in higher SEP region may be susceptible to the adverse effect of air pollution. Maternal diabetic, hypertensive, and smoking status may also increase susceptibility to this air pollution-related health effect.

Original languageEnglish
Article number34
JournalEnvironmental Health: A Global Access Science Source
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • Air pollution
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Geographic Information System
  • Hypertension
  • Low birth weight
  • Pregnancy outcomes
  • Preterm birth
  • Smoking
  • Socio-economic position

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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