Spatial Variations in the Associations of Term Birth Weight with Ambient Air Pollution in Georgia, USA
Geography and Anthropology
Birth weight is an important indicator of overall infant health and a strong predictor of infant morbidity and mortality, and low birth weight (LBW) is a leading cause of infant mortality in the United States. Numerous studies have examined the associations of birth weight with ambient air pollution, but the results were inconsistent. In this study, a spatial statistical technique, geographically weighted regression (GWR) is applied to explore the spatial variations in the associations of birth weight with concentrations of ozone (O3) and fine particulate matter (PM2.5) in the State of Georgia, USA adjusted for gestational age, parity, and six other socioeconomic, behavioral, and land use factors. The results show considerable spatial variations in the associations of birth weight with both pollutants. Significant positive, non-significant, and significant negative relationships between birth weight and concentrations of each air pollutant are all found in different parts of the study area, and the different types of the relationships are affected by the socioeconomic and urban characteristics of the communities where the births are located. The significant negative relationships between birth weight and O3indicate that O3 is a significant risk factor of LBW and these associations are primarily located in less-urbanized communities. On the other hand, PM2.5 is a significant risk factor of LBW in the more-urbanized communities with higher family income and education attainment. These findings suggest that environmental and health policies should be adjusted to address the different effects of air pollutants on birth outcomes across different types of communities to more effectively and efficiently improve birth outcomes.
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