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Effect modification of perinatal exposure to air pollution and childhood asthma incidence

Lavigne E, Belair MA, Duque DR, Do MT, Stieb DM, Hystad P, van Donkelaar A, Martin RV, Crouse DL, Crighton E, Chen H, Burnett RT, Weichenthal S, Villeneuve PJ, To T, Brook JR, Johnson M, Cakmak S, Yasseen III AS, Walker M. Eur Respir J. 2018; 51(3):1701884. Epub 2018 Feb 1.


Perinatal exposure to ambient air pollution has been associated with childhood asthma incidence, however, less is known regarding the potential effect modifiers in this association. We examined whether maternal and infant characteristics modified the association between perinatal exposure to air pollution and development of childhood asthma.

761,172 births occurring between 2006 and 2012 were identified in the province of Ontario, Canada. Associations between exposure to ambient air pollutants and childhood asthma incidence (up to age 6) were estimated using Cox regression models.

110,981 children with asthma were identified. In models adjusted for postnatal exposures, second trimester exposures to particulate matter with a diameter ≤2.5 μm (PM2.5) (Hazard Ratio (HR) per interquartile (IQR) increase=1.07, 95% CI: 1.06–1.09) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) (HR per IQR increase=1.06, 95% CI: 1.03–1.08) were associated with childhood asthma development. Enhanced impacts were found among children born to mothers with asthma, those who smoked during pregnancy, boys, those born preterm, of low birth weight and among those born to mothers living in urban areas during pregnancy.

Prenatal exposure to air pollution may have a differential impact on the risk of asthma development according to maternal and infant characteristics.

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