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Impact of Noise and Air Pollution on Pregnancy Outcomes

Gehring, Ulrikea; Tamburic, Lillianb; Sbihi, Hindb; Davies, Hugh W.b; Brauer, Michaelb

doi: 10.1097/EDE.0000000000000073

Background: Motorized traffic is an important source of both air pollution and community noise. While there is growing evidence for an adverse effect of ambient air pollution on reproductive health, little is known about the association between traffic noise and pregnancy outcomes.

Methods: We evaluated the impact of residential noise exposure on small size for gestational age, preterm birth, term birth weight, and low birth weight at term in a population-based cohort study, for which we previously reported associations between air pollution and pregnancy outcomes. We also evaluated potential confounding of air pollution effects by noise and vice versa. Linked administrative health data sets were used to identify 68,238 singleton births (1999–2002) in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, with complete covariate data (sex, ethnicity, parity, birth month and year, income, and education) and maternal residential history. We estimated exposure to noise with a deterministic model (CadnaA) and exposure to air pollution using temporally adjusted land-use regression models and inverse distance weighting of stationary monitors for the entire pregnancy.

Results: Noise exposure was negatively associated with term birth weight (mean difference = −19 [95% confidence interval = −23 to −15] g per 6 dB(A)). In joint air pollution-noise models, associations between noise and term birth weight remained largely unchanged, whereas associations decreased for all air pollutants.

Conclusion: Traffic may affect birth weight through exposure to both air pollution and noise.

Supplemental Digital Content is available in the text.

From the aInstitute for Risk Assessment Sciences, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands; and bSchool of Population and Public Health, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.

The authors report no conflicts of interests.

The research was supported, in part, by Health Canada via an agreement with the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control to the Border Air Quality Study and by the Canadian Centers for Health Research.

Supplemental digital content is available through direct URL citations in the HTML and PDF versions of this article ( This content is not peer-reviewed or copy-edited; it is the sole responsibility of the author.

Correspondence: Ulrike Gehring, Institute for Risk Assessment Sciences, Utrecht University, P.O. Box 80178, 3508 TD Utrecht, The Netherlands. E-mail:

© 2014 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc