Maternal PM2.5 exposure associated with stillbirth: A large birth cohort study in seven Chinese cities

Zhijiang Liang, Yin Yang, Jing Yi, Zhengmin Qian, Zilong Zhang, Stephen Edward McMillin, Echu Liu, Hualiang Lin, Guocheng Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Background: Maternal exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) has been associated with a few adverse birth outcomes. However, its effect on stillbirth remains unknown in China, especially the susceptible windows and potential modifiers. Objective: This study aimed to evaluate the associations between maternal PM2.5 exposure and stillbirth in seven Chinese cities. Methods: We used birth cohort data of 1,273,924 mother-and-birth pairs in seven cities in southern China between 2014 and 2017 to examine these associations. Pregnant women were recruited in the cohort at their first visit to a doctor for pregnancy, and stillbirths were recorded at the time of birth. Air pollution exposures were assessed through linking daily air pollutant concentrations from nearby monitoring stations to the mother's residential community. Cox regression models were applied to determine the associations between PM2.5 and stillbirth for different gestational periods. Results: Among the participants, 3150 (2.47‰) were identified as stillbirth cases. The hazard ratio (HR) of stillbirths was 1.52 (95% CI: 1.42, 1.62) for each 10 μg/m3 increase in PM2.5 during the entire pregnancy after controlling for some important covariates. Relatively stronger associations were observed during the second trimester [adjusted HR = 1.67 (95% CI: 1.57, 1.77)] than trimesters 1 [HR = 1.44 (95% CI: 1.37, 1.52)] and trimester 3 [HR = 1.23 (95% CI: 1.16, 1.30)]. Stratified analyses also showed a stronger association among pregnant women without previous pregnancy and previous delivery experiences. Conclusion: The study indicates that maternal exposure to PM2.5, especially during the midpoint period of pregnancy, might increase the risk of stillbirths. Maternal previous pregnancy and delivery may modify this association.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number113795
JournalInternational Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health
StatePublished - Jul 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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