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Environ Health. 2016 Feb 24;15:40. doi: 10.1186/s12940-016-0121-4.

Air pollution exposure and gestational diabetes mellitus among pregnant women in Massachusetts: a cohort study.

Author information

Division of Endocrinology, Boston Children's Hospital, 300 Longwood Ave., Boston, MA, 02115, USA.
Department of Geography and Environmental Development, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer Sheva, Israel.
Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA.
Channing Laboratory, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA, USA.
Obesity Prevention Program, Department of Population Medicine, Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute, Boston, MA, USA.
Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA.



Rodent and human studies suggest an association between air pollution exposure and type 2 diabetes mellitus, but the extent to which air pollution is associated with gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is less clear.


We used the Massachusetts Registry of Vital Records to study primiparous women pregnant from 2003-2008 without pre-existing diabetes. We used satellite-based spatiotemporal models to estimate first and second trimester residential particulate (PM2.5) exposure and geographic information systems to estimate neighborhood traffic density. We obtained GDM status from birth records. We performed logistic regression analyses adjusted for sociodemographics on the full cohort and after stratification by maternal age and smoking habits.


Of 159,373 women, 5,381 (3.4 %) developed GDM. Residential PM2.5 exposure ranged 1.3-19.3 μg/m(3) over the second trimester. None of the exposures were associated with GDM in the full cohort [e.g. OR 0.99 (95 % CI: 0.95, 1.03) for each interquartile range (IQR) increment in second trimester PM2.5]. There were also no consistent associations after stratification by smoking habits. When the cohort was stratified by maternal age, women less than 20 years had 1.36 higher odds of GDM (95 % CI: 1.08, 1.70) for each IQR increment in second trimester PM2.5 exposure.


Although we found no evidence of an association between air pollution exposure and GDM among all women in our study, greater exposure to PM2.5 during the second trimester was associated with GDM in the youngest age stratum.

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