Trimester effects of source-specific PM10 on birth weight outcomes in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC)

Yingxin Chen, Susan Hodgson, John Gulliver, Raquel Granell, A. John Henderson, Yutong Cai, Anna L. Hansell*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Evidence suggests that exposure to particulate matter with aerodynamic diameter less than 10 μm (PM10) is associated with reduced birth weight, but information is limited on the sources of PM10 and exposure misclassification from assigning exposures to place of residence at birth. Methods: Trimester and source-specific PM10 exposures (PM10 from road source, local non-road source, and total source) in pregnancy were estimated using dispersion models and a full maternal residential history for 12,020 births from the Avon longitudinal study of parents and children (ALSPAC) cohort in 1990–1992 in the Bristol area. Information on birth outcomes were obtained from birth records. Maternal sociodemographic and lifestyle factors were obtained from questionnaires. We used linear regression models for continuous outcomes (birth weight, head circumference (HC), and birth length (BL) and logistic regression models for binary outcomes (preterm birth (PTB), term low birth weight (TLBW) and small for gestational age (SGA)). Sensitivity analysis was performed using multiple imputation for missing covariate data. Results: After adjustment, interquartile range increases in source specific PM10 from traffic were associated with 17 to 18% increased odds of TLBW in all pregnancy periods. We also found odds of TLBW increased by 40% (OR: 1.40, 95%CI: 1.12, 1.75) and odds of SGA increased by 18% (OR: 1.18, 95%CI: 1.05, 1.32) per IQR (6.54 μg/m3) increase of total PM10 exposure in the third trimester. Conclusion: This study adds to evidence that maternal PM10 exposures affect birth weight, with particular concern in relation to exposures to PM10 from road transport sources; results for total PM10 suggest greatest effect in the third trimester. Effect size estimates relate to exposures in the 1990s and are higher than those for recent studies – this may relate to reduced exposure misclassification through use of full residential history information, changes in air pollution toxicity over time and/or residual confounding.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4
JournalEnvironmental Health: A Global Access Science Source
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The work presented here was part-funded by the UK Medical Research Council: ‘Effects of early life exposure to particulates on respiratory health through childhood and adolescence: ALSPAC Birth Cohort Study’ (grant ref.: G0700920). This publication is the work of the authors and Raquel Granell will serve as guarantors for the contents of this paper. A comprehensive list of grants funding is available on the ALSPAC website ( ). Yutong. C acknowledge supports from the PEAK Urban programme, funded by UKRI’s Global Challenge Research Fund (Grant number: ES/P011055/1).

Funding Information:
A.L.H. and J.G. also acknowledge funding from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Health Protection Research Unit in Environmental Exposures and Health, a partnership between Public Health England, the Health and Safety Executive and the University of Leicester. The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NIHR, Public Health England, the Health and Safety Executive or the Department of Health and Social Care.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).


  • Air pollution
  • Birth weight
  • Dispersion modeling
  • Environmental health
  • Epidemiology
  • Particulate matter
  • Preterm birth


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