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Exposure to Air Pollution Tied to Raised Odds of NICU Admission

THURSDAY, July 25, 2019 -- Acute exposure to pollutants in the week prior to delivery and day of delivery is associated with increased odds of neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) admission, according to a study published online July 12 in the Annals of Epidemiology.

Indulaxmi Seeni, from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in Bethesda, Maryland, and colleagues examined the correlation between prenatal air pollution exposure and NICU admission for 27,189 singletons admitted into the NICU in the Consortium on Safe Labor from 2002 to 2008. Exposure to air pollutants during the week of delivery was compared to control periods before and after delivery.

The researchers found that exposure to particulate matter ≤2.5 microns (PM2.5) constituents during the week before delivery was significantly associated with elevated odds of NICU admission in models that adjusted for PM2.5: elemental carbon, ammonium ions, nitrate compounds, organic compounds, and sulfate compounds (35, 37, 16, 147, and 35 percent, respectively). Significantly increased odds were seen for day of and day prior to delivery exposures to carbon monoxide (4 to 5 percent), nitrogen dioxide (13 percent), nitrogen oxides (4 to 8 percent), particles ≤10 microns (2 percent), PM2.5 (2 percent), and sulfur dioxide (3 to 6 percent). There were no associations for ozone.

"If our findings are confirmed, they suggest that pregnant women may want to consider limiting their time outdoors when air quality advisories indicate unhealthy conditions," a coauthor said in a statement.

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Posted: July 2019

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