Investigating the Impact of Maternal Residential Mobility on Identifying Critical Windows of Susceptibility to Ambient Air Pollution During Pregnancy

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Abstract

Identifying periods of increased vulnerability to air pollution during pregnancy with respect to the development of adverse birth outcomes can improve understanding of possible mechanisms of disease development and provide guidelines for protection of the child. Exposure to air pollution during pregnancy is typically based on the mother's residence at delivery, potentially resulting in exposure misclassification and biasing the estimation of critical windows of pregnancy. In this study, we determined the impact of maternal residential mobility during pregnancy on defining weekly exposure to particulate matter less than or equal to 10 μm in aerodynamic diameter (PM10) and estimating windows of susceptibility to term low birth weight. We utilized data sets from 4 Connecticut birth cohorts (1988-2008) that included information on all residential addresses between conception and delivery for each woman. We designed a simulation study to investigate the impact of increasing levels of mobility on identification of critical windows. Increased PM10 exposure during pregnancy weeks 16-18 was associated with an increased probability of term low birth weight. Ignoring residential mobility when defining weekly exposure had only a minor impact on the identification of critical windows for PM10 and term low birth weight in the data application and simulation study. Identification of critical pregnancy windows was robust to exposure misclassification caused by ignoring residential mobility in these Connecticut birth cohorts.

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