A review of the literature on ambient air pollution and effects on fetal growth

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A systematic review of the literature on the effects of air pollution on low birth weight (LBW) and its determinants, preterm delivery (PTD) and intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR), was conducted. Twelve epidemiologic investigations that addressed the impact of air pollution on four pregnancy outcomes were identified. Results were analyzed separately for each perinatal outcome because of differences in pathogenic mechanisms. Effects of air pollution were apparent on PTD and IUGR, but not on LBW. Most of the associations reported were rather small. The estimation of summary effects was not meaningful because of the heterogeneity of the effect estimates arising from differences in the measurements of outcome, exposure, and confounders and the small number of studies per outcome (four studies for PTD and six for IUGR). Current scientific knowledge on the impact of air pollution on fetal growth is still limited; thus, several issues should be examined further.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)106-115
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Research
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2004