CONTEXT AND OBJECTIVE:
Several effects of exposure to air pollutants on human health are known. The aim of this study was to identify whether exposure of pregnant women to air pollutants contributes towards low birth weight and which sex is more affected.
DESIGN AND SETTING:
Longitudinal study using data on newborns from mothers living in São José do Rio Preto (SP) who were exposed to air pollutants in 2012-2013.
A hierarchical model on three levels was built using maternal and newborn variables and environmental concentrations of particulate matter, ozone and nitrogen dioxide in quartiles. Preterm new-borns, twins and newborns with birth defects were excluded and exposure windows of 30, 60 and 90 days before delivery were considered.
8,948 newborns were included: 4,491 males (50.2%) and 4,457 females (49.8%); 301 newborns presented low birth weight (3.4%). The mean weight differed between males (3281.0 g) and females (3146.4 g) (P < 0.001). Exposure to ozone was significantly associated with low birth weight in both sexes in the 30-day window (odds ratio, OR = 1.38) and 90-day window (OR = 1.48); and among females, in the 30-day window (OR = 1.58) and 90-day window (OR = 1.59). Exposure to particulate matter had a paradoxical protective effect. No association was found among male newborns.
Female newborns showed greater susceptibility to maternal exposure to air pollutants. Studies on low birth weight in relation to maternal exposure to air pollutants should deal with males and females separately.
Air pollutants; Ozone; Infant, low birth weight; Particulate matter; Air pollution