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Air Pollution and Risk of Congenital Anomalies in England, 1991-99

Dolk, Helen*; Armstrong, Ben; Vrijheid, Martine; Rankin, Judith§; Abramsky, Lenore; Boyd, Patricia**; Wellesley, Diana††

doi: 10.1097/01.ede.0000362295.63842.4f
Abstracts: ISEE 21st Annual Conference, Dublin, Ireland, August 25–29, 2009: Oral Presentations

*University of Ulster, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom; †London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, United Kingdom; ‡CREAL, Barcelona, Spain; §University of Newcastle, Newcastle, United Kingdom; ¶North Thames West EUROCAT registry, London, United Kingdom; **National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit, Oxford, United Kingdom; and ††Southampton University, Southampton, United Kingdom.

Abstracts published in Epidemiology have been reviewed by the organizations of Epidemiology. Affliate Societies at whose meetings the abstracts have been accepted for presentation. These abstracts have not undergone review by the Editorial Board of Epidemiology.


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Background and Objectives:

There is growing epidemiological evidence for the adverse effects on the fetus and newborn of maternal exposure to air pollution. This paper investigates the association between risk of non-chromosomal congenital anomaly and annual ward level exposure to air pollution in England during the 1990s.

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A geographical study was conducted across four regions of England with population-based congenital anomaly registers, 1991-99. Exposure was measured as 1996 annual mean background SO2, PM10 and NO2 concentrations at census ward level (n = 1474). Poisson regression, controlling for maternal age, area socio-economic deprivation, and hospital catchment area was used to estimate relative risk for an increase in pollution from the 10th to the 90th centile, for 23 non-chromosomal congenital anomaly subtypes.

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For non-chromosomal anomalies combined, relative risks were 0.99 (95%CI 0.93-1.05) for SO2, 0.97 (95%CI 0.84-1.11) for NO2, 0.89 (95%CI 0.75-1.07) for PM10. For congenital anomaly subtypes, two statistically significant associations were found, of which the raised risk for Tetralogy of Fallot and SO2 (RR = 1.38, 95%CI 1.07-1.79) is of interest in the light of previously reported associations between this cardiac anomaly and other air pollutants.

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While air pollution in the 1990s did not lead to sustained geographical differences in overall congenital anomaly rate in England, further research regarding specific anomalies is indicated.

© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.