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Traffic-related air pollution and birth weight: the roles of noise, placental function, green space, physical activity, and socioeconomic status (FRONTIER)

Principal Investigators: 

ISGlobal, Barcelona Institute for Global Health, Spain


ISGlobal, Barcelona Institute for Global Health, Spain

In this study, the investigators will recruit pregnant women in Barcelona and assess the effects of in-utero exposure to traffic-related pollution on birth weight, fetal growth trajectories, and placental function for each pregnancy. The investigators will estimate exposure to several pollutants and transportation noise and evaluate the roles of socioeconomic status, green space, physical activity, diet, and stress.

Funded under

Abstract for the 2019 HEI Annual Conference

Traffic-related air pollution and birth weight: the roles of noise, placental function, green space, physical activity, and socioeconomic status (FRONTIER)

Payam Dadvand1, Jordi Sunyer1(Presenter), Maria Dolores Gómez-Roig2, Elisa Llurba3, Mar Alvarez1, Gustavo Arévalo4, Mariona Bustamante1, Xavier Basagaña1, Maria Foraster1, Mireia Gascon1, Michael Jerrett5, Jose Lao4, Edurne Mazarico Gallego2, Teresa Moreno6, Tim Nawrot7, Mark J Nieuwenhuijsen1, Xavier Querol6, Joel Schwartz8, Cathryn Tonne1   

1ISGlobal, Barcelona, Spain; 2University of Barcelona, Spain; 3Sant Pau University Hospital, Barcelona, Spain, 4Barcelona Regional, Spain; 5University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA; 6Institute of Environmental Assessment and Water Research (IDAEA-CSIC), Barcelona, Spain; 7Hasselt University, Hasselt, Belgium; 8Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA

Background. A substantial body of evidence has associated air pollution to impaired fetal growth; however, there are still substantial limitations in terms of applied exposure assessment methods, such as disentangling the role of co-exposures such as noise, and evaluating the modifiers, mediators, and mitigators of this association. FRONTIER aims to provide a robust and comprehensive evaluation of the impact of maternal exposure to traffic-related air pollution on fetal growth. Towards this aim, it will (i) disentangle the effects of noise; (ii) identify the relevant window(s) of exposure; (iii) evaluate its modification by socioeconomic status, stress, and physical activity; (iv) elucidate the role of placental function as an underlying mechanism; and (v) explore the potential of green spaces to mitigate it.

Methods. FRONTIER will establish a new pregnancy cohort of 1,000 women in Barcelona, Spain. Fetal growth will be characterized by anthropometric measures at birth together with ultrasound-based trajectories of fetal development. Placental function will be evaluated using state-of-the-art Doppler ultrasound indicators. Hair cortisol levels will be used as an indicator of maternal stress during pregnancy. Time-activity patterns will be objectively characterized using a combination of smartphones and personal physical activity monitors. We will develop and validate an innovative exposure assessment framework integrating data on time-activity patterns with a hybrid modeling framework combining dispersion and land use regression models and campaigns of personal and home-outdoor air pollution monitoring to estimate maternal exposure level as well as inhaled dose of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), fine particulate matter (PM2.5), PM2.5 light absorption, and PM2.5 copper (Cu), iron (Fe), and zinc (Zn) contents (markers of non-tailpipe emissions) at the main microenvironments for pregnant women (home, workplace, and commuting routes). We will assess maternal exposure to noise by integrating measurements at participants’ home-outdoor using noise monitors together with modeled microenvironmental levels of noise and data on noise sensitivity, annoyance, and protections against noise. We will apply detailed information on different characteristics of each tree canopy in our study region together with a high-resolution remote-sensing map of greenness to separately characterize the canopy and greenness surrounding maternal residential address. We will develop single- and multi-pollutant models to evaluate the impact of air pollution exposure and inhaled dose on fetal growth and the mediatory role of placental function.

Results & Conclusions. FRONTIER is now in the recruitment phase. It will generate a vigorous evidence base for implementing finely-targeted regulations to tackle effects of air pollution on fetal growth.


Poster by Dadvand, Sunyer et al., 2019 HEI Annual Conference