Objective: We previously reported an increased risk of stillbirth associated with increases in trimester-specific ambient air pollutant concentrations. Here, we consider whether sudden increase in the mean ambient air pollutant concentration immediately before delivery triggers stillbirth.
Methods: We used New Jersey linked fetal death and hospital discharge data and hourly ambient air pollution measurements from particulate matter ≤2.5 mm (PM2.5), carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), and sulfur dioxide (SO2) monitors across New Jersey for the years 1998–2004. For each stillbirth, we assigned the concentration of air pollutants from the closest monitoring site within 10 km of the maternal residence. Using a time-stratified case-crossover design and conditional logistic regression, we estimated the relative odds of stillbirth associated with interquartile range (IQR) increases in the mean pollutant concentrations on lag day 2 and lag days 2 through 6 before delivery, and whether these associations were modified by maternal risk factors.
Results: The relative odds of stillbirth increased with IQR increases in the mean concentrations of CO (odds ratio [OR] = 1.20, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.05–1.37), SO2 (OR = 1.11, 95% CI = 1.02–1.22), NO2 (OR = 1.11, 95% CI = 0.97–1.26), and PM2.5 (OR = 1.07, 95% CI = 0.93–1.22) 2 days before delivery. We found similar associations with increases in pollutants 2 through 6 days before delivery. These associations were not modified by maternal risk factors.
Conclusion: Short-term increases in ambient air pollutant concentrations immediately before delivery may trigger stillbirth.