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Environ Health Perspect; DOI:10.1289/ehp.1510810

Particulate Matter Exposure and Preterm Birth: Estimates of U.S. Attributable Burden and Economic Costs

Leonardo Trasande,1,2,3,4,5,6 Patrick Malecha,1 and Teresa M. Attina1
Author Affiliations open
Departments of Pediatrics,1 Environmental Medicine,2 and Population Health,3 New York University School of Medicine, New York, New York, USA; 4NYU Wagner School of Public Service, New York, New York, USA; 5NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development, Department of Nutrition, Food & Public Health, New York, New York, USA; 6NYU Global Institute of Public Health, New York, New York, USA

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  • Background: Preterm birth (PTB) rates (11.4% in 2013) in the United States (US) remain high and are a substantial cause of morbidity. Studies of prenatal exposure have associated particulate matter <2.5microns in diameter (PM2.5) and other ambient air pollutants with adverse birth outcomes, yet, to our knowledge, burden and costs of PM 2.5-attributable PTB have not been estimated in the US.

    Objectives: To estimate burden of PTB in the US and economic costs attributable to PM2.5 exposure in 2010.

    Methods: Annual deciles of PM2.5 were obtained from US EPA. We converted PTB odds ratio (OR), identified in a previous meta-analysis (1.15 per 10µg/m3 for our base case, 1.07-1.16 for low- and high-end scenarios) to relative risk (RRs), to obtain an estimate that better represents the true relative risk. A reference level (RL) of 8.8µg/m3 was applied. We then used the RR estimates and county-level PTB prevalence to quantify PM2.5 attributable PTB. Direct medical costs were obtained from the 2007 Institute of Medicine report, and lost economic productivity (LEP) was estimated using a meta-analysis of PTB-associated IQ loss, and well-established relationships of IQ loss with LEP. All costs were calculated using 2010 dollars.

    Results: An estimated 3.32% of PTBs nationally (corresponding to15,808 PTBs) in 2010 could be attributed to PM2.5 (PM2.5>8.8 µg/m3). Attributable PTBs cost were estimated at $4.33 billion (SA: $2.06-8.22B), of which $760 million were spent for medical care (SA: $362M-1.44B). The estimated PM2.5-attributable fraction (AF) of PTB was highest in urban counties, with highest AFs in the Ohio valley and Southern US.

    Conclusions: PM2.5 may contribute substantially to burden and costs of PTB in the US, and considerable health and economic benefits could be achieved through environmental regulatory interventions that reduce PM2.5 exposure in pregnancy.

  • This EHP Advance Publication article has been peer-reviewed, revised, and accepted for publication. EHP Advance Publication articles are completely citable using the DOI number assigned to the article. This document will be replaced with the copyedited and formatted version as soon as it is available. Through the DOI number used in the citation, you will be able to access this document at each stage of the publication process.

    Citation: Trasande L, Malecha P, Attina TM. Particulate Matter Exposure and Preterm Birth: Estimates of U.S. Attributable Burden and Economic Costs. Environ Health Perspect; http://dx.doi.org/10.1289/ehp.1510810

    Received: 28 September 2015
    Accepted: 9 March 2016
    Advance Publication: 29 March 2016

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