The effect of exposure to particulate matter during pregnancy on lower respiratory tract infection hospitalizations during first year of life

Sharon Goshen, Lena Novack, Offer Erez, Maayan Yitshak-Sade, Itai Kloog, Alexandra Shtein, Eilon Shany

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Background: Lower respiratory tract infections (LRTI) in early life, including pneumonia, bronchitis and bronchiolitis, can lead to decreased lung function, persistent lung damage and increased susceptibility to various respiratory diseases such as asthma. In-utero exposure to particulate matter (PM) during pregnancy may disrupt biological mechanisms that regulate fetal growth, maturation and development. We aimed to estimate the association between intrauterine exposure to PM of size < 2.5 μm in diameter (PM2.5) and incidence of LRTIs during the first year of life. Methods: A retrospective population-based cohort study in a population of mothers and infants born in Soroka University Medical Center (SUMC) in the years 2004-2012. All infants < 1 year old that were hospitalized due to LRTIs were included. The main exposure assessment was based on a hybrid model incorporating daily satellite-based predictions at 1 km2 spatial resolution. Data from monitoring stations was used for imputation of main exposure and other pollutants. Levels of environmental exposures were assigned to subjects based on their residential addresses and averaged for each trimester. Analysis was conducted by a multivariable generalized estimating equation (GEE) Poisson regression. Data was analyzed separately for the two main ethnic groups in the region, Jewish and Arab-Bedouin. Results: The study cohort included 57,331 deliveries that met the inclusion criteria. Overall, 1871 hospitalizations of infants < 1 year old due to pneumonia or bronchiolitis were documented. In a multivariable analysis, intrauterine exposure to high levels of PM2.5 (> 24 μg/m3) in the first and second trimesters was found to be adversely associated with LRTIs in the Arab-Bedouin population (1st trimester, RR = 1.31, CI 95% 1.08-1.60; 2nd trimester: RR = 1.34, CI 95% 1.09-1.66). Conclusion: Intrauterine exposure to high levels of PM2.5 is associated with a higher risk of hospitalizations due to lower respiratory tract infections in Arab-Bedouin infants.

Original languageEnglish
Article number90
JournalEnvironmental Health: A Global Access Science Source
Issue number1
StatePublished - 26 Aug 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Bronchiolitis
  • Hospitalizations
  • Intrauterine exposure
  • PM
  • Pneumonia
  • Pregnancy


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