Geospatial Analyses of Adverse Birth Outcomes In Southwestern Ontario: Examining The Impact of Environmental Factors

The association between exposure to environmental factors during pregnancy and adverse birth outcomes such as, low birth weight (LBW) and preterm birth (PTB), has been examined previously with varying results. This study investigated environmental factors associated with LBW and PTB in Southwestern Ontario (SWO), while controlling for covariates including medical, behavioural, demographic and neighbourhood-level socioeconomic factors. This retrospective cohort study used a large sample of women from SWO who gave birth between February 2009 and February 2014 at London Health Sciences Centre. Data was obtained from perinatal and neonatal databases at London Health Sciences Center. This large-scale study provides evidence of a strong association between exposure to sulfur dioxide during pregnancy and adverse birth outcomes. Health care providers should be informed about the hazards of air pollution to developing fetuses so that adequate recommendations can be made to their pregnant patients on staying indoors with the windows closed, or taking other means to limit exposure when local air quality is poor. Future research could assess whether the timing of environmental exposures during specific stages of pregnancy may affect birth outcomes for women.

This paper was written by Jamie Seabrook, Alexandra Smith, Andrew Clark and Jason Gilliland. The authors would like to thank Environmental and Climate Change Canada for providing ground-level SO2 and Ozone data. Furthermore the authors would like to acknowledge the Atmospheric Composition Analysis Group at Dalhousie University on providing PM2.5.

This research was made possible through the Brescia University College research grant as well as the trainee support from the Children’s Health Foundation through the Children’s Health Institute.


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Key words: Premature birth, infant, low birth weight, sulfur dioxide, air pollution

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