University Of Tasmania

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Maternal exposure to short-to medium-term outdoor air pollution and obstetric and neonatal outcomes: a systematic review

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-20, 02:12 authored by Melody, SM, Ford, J, Karen WillsKaren Wills, Alison VennAlison Venn, Fay JohnstonFay Johnston
Background: Little is known about the impacts of maternal exposure to acute episodes of outdoor air pollution, such as that resulting from wildfires, on obstetric and neonatal outcomes. This systematic review aims to synthesise the existing literature exploring the relationship between maternal exposure to short-to medium-term changes in outdoor air quality and obstetric and neonatal outcomes.

Methods: A systematic search of peer-reviewed articles using PubMed, Cochrane Library, EMBASE, ScienceDirect, Web of Science, ProQuest, GreenFILE and Scopus was conducted in January 2018 using selected search terms. Quality of included studies were assessed using the Newcastle Ottawa Scale.

Results: Eleven studies were included; eight assessed the impact of maternal exposure to air pollution exacerbation events, such as wildfires, oil well fires and volcanic eruptions, and three assessed the impact of improvement events, such as the 2018 Beijing Olympics and closure of industrial activities, on obstetric and neonatal outcomes. Studies were highly heterogenous in methodology. Six studies found a significant association between acute changes in air quality and markers of fetal growth restriction, while two did not. Three studies found an adverse association between acute changes in air quality and markers of gestational maturity, and one did not.

Conclusion: Overall, there is some evidence that maternal exposure to acute changes in air quality of short-to medium-term duration increases the risk of fetal growth restriction and preterm birth. The relationship for other adverse obstetric or neonatal outcomes is less clear.


Publication title

Environmental Pollution








Menzies Institute for Medical Research


Elsevier Sci Ltd

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The Boulevard, Langford Lane, Kidlington, Oxford, England, Oxon, Ox5 1Gb

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Copyright 2018 Elsevier Ltd.

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Socio-economic Objectives

Public health (excl. specific population health) not elsewhere classified