Background: Exposure to air pollution has been associated with higher C-reactive protein (CRP) levels, suggesting an inflammatory response. Not much is known about this association in pregnancy. Objectives: We investigated the associations of air pollution exposure during pregnancy with maternal and fetal CRP levels in a population-based cohort study in the Netherlands. Methods: Particulate matter (PM) with an aerodynamic diameter ≤ 10 μm (PM10) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels were estimated at the home address using dispersion modeling for different averaging periods preceding the blood sampling (1 week, 2 weeks, 4 weeks, and total pregnancy). High-sensitivity CRP levels were measured in maternal blood samples in early pregnancy (n = 5,067) and in fetal cord blood samples at birth (n = 4,450). Results: Compared with the lowest quartile, higher PM10 exposure levels for the prior 1 and 2 weeks were associated with elevated maternal CRP levels (> 8 mg/L) in the first trimester [fourth PM10 quartile for the prior week: odds ratio (OR), 1.32; 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.08, 1.61; third PM10 quartile for the prior 2 weeks: OR, 1.28; 95% CI: 1.06, 1.56]; however, no clear dose-response relationships were observed. PM10 and NO2 exposure levels for 1, 2, and 4 weeks preceding delivery were not consistently associated with fetal CRP levels at delivery. Higher long-term PM10 and NO2 exposure levels (total pregnancy) were associated with elevated fetal CRP levels (> 1 mg/L) at delivery (fourth quartile PM10: OR, 2.18; 95% CI: 1.08, 4.38; fourth quartile NO2: OR, 3.42; 95% CI: 1.36, 8.58; p-values for trend < 0.05). Conclusions: Our results suggest that exposure to air pollution during pregnancy may lead to maternal and fetal inflammatory responses.

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Environmental Health Perspectives
Generation R Study Group

van den Hooven, E., de Kluizenaar, Y., Pierik, F., Hofman, A., van Ratingen, S., Zandveld, P., … Jaddoe, V. (2012). Chronic air pollution exposure during pregnancy and maternal and fetal c-reactive protein levels: The generation R study. Environmental Health Perspectives, 120(5), 746–751. Retrieved from