PM10 air pollution exposure during pregnancy and term low birth weight in Allegheny County, PA, 1994–2000

  • Xiaohui XuEmail author
  • Ravi K. Sharma
  • Evelyn O. Talbott
  • Jeanne V. Zborowski
  • Judy Rager
  • Vincent C. Arena
  • Conrad Dan Volz
Original Article



Low birth weight has been associated with increased risks of mortality and/or morbidity in childhood and adulthood. Epidemiological studies suggest that maternal exposure to air pollution, especially particulate matter during pregnancy, is associated with an increased risk of delivering a low birth weight infant. The aim of this study is to explore the association between exposure to particulate matter (PM10) during pregnancy and term low birth weight (LBW: birth weight <2,500 g and gestation age ≥ 37 weeks).


Birth data from the Allegheny County Health Department, Pittsburgh, PA, USA and PM10 air data generated with inverse-distance interpolation by RAND’s Center for Population Health and Health Disparities, were obtained. The study population consisted of all term singleton live births (gestational age ≥ 37 weeks) born between January 1, 1994 to December 31, 2000. Infants with birth weight <2,500 g were classified as LBW. Logistic regression with robust variance estimation was performed to estimate the odds ratios of LBW per inter-quartile range increase in PM10.


The results showed that the odds ratios of term LBW per inter-quartile range increase in PM10 were 1.13 (95% CI: 1.02–1.25) during the first trimester and 1.10 (95% CI: 1.00–1.22) during the second trimester after adjustment for other important covariates, respectively.


The findings of the study support the hypothesis that exposure to PM10 is associated with increased levels of term LBW. Further studies are warranted to corroborate these findings.


Air pollution PM10 Low birth weight Adverse pregnancy outcomes 



This study was supported by CDC Environmental Public Health Tracking Program Grant (Grant #: RFA 05074).

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xiaohui Xu
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ravi K. Sharma
    • 2
  • Evelyn O. Talbott
    • 3
  • Jeanne V. Zborowski
    • 3
  • Judy Rager
    • 3
  • Vincent C. Arena
    • 4
  • Conrad Dan Volz
    • 5
  1. 1.College of Public Health and Health ProfessionsUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences, Graduate School of Public HealthUniversity of PittsburghPittsburghUSA
  3. 3.Department of Epidemiology, Graduate School of Public HealthUniversity of PittsburghPittsburghUSA
  4. 4.Department of Biostatistics, Graduate School of Public HealthUniversity of PittsburghPittsburghUSA
  5. 5.Center for Healthy Environments and Communities, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, Graduate School of Public HealthUniversity of PittsburghPittsburghUSA

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