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J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol. 2017 Sep;27(5):513-520. doi: 10.1038/jes.2016.66. Epub 2016 Dec 14.

Measurement error in mobile source air pollution exposure estimates due to residential mobility during pregnancy.

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Department of Environmental Health, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA.
School of Community Health Sciences, University of Nevada Reno, Reno, Nevada, USA.
School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia, USA.
Kaiser Permanente Georgia Center for Clinical and Outcomes Research, Atlanta, Georgia, USA.
South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia.


Prenatal air pollution exposure is frequently estimated using maternal residential location at the time of delivery as a proxy for residence during pregnancy. We describe residential mobility during pregnancy among 19,951 children from the Kaiser Air Pollution and Pediatric Asthma Study, quantify measurement error in spatially resolved estimates of prenatal exposure to mobile source fine particulate matter (PM2.5) due to ignoring this mobility, and simulate the impact of this error on estimates of epidemiologic associations. Two exposure estimates were compared, one calculated using complete residential histories during pregnancy (weighted average based on time spent at each address) and the second calculated using only residence at birth. Estimates were computed using annual averages of primary PM2.5 from traffic emissions modeled using a Research LINE-source dispersion model for near-surface releases (RLINE) at 250 m resolution. In this cohort, 18.6% of children were born to mothers who moved at least once during pregnancy. Mobile source PM2.5 exposure estimates calculated using complete residential histories during pregnancy and only residence at birth were highly correlated (rS>0.9). Simulations indicated that ignoring residential mobility resulted in modest bias of epidemiologic associations toward the null, but varied by maternal characteristics and prenatal exposure windows of interest (ranging from -2% to -10% bias).

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