University at Buffalo Study on Air Pollution’s Effects on Pregnant Women in China Receives Grant

Lina Mu, PhD

Published November 10, 2016

Air pollution exposure has been identified as a leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide and, yet, the effects of that exposure on pregnant women and fetuses has been largely understudied in the highest pollution environments.

A study on the effects of air pollution on pregnant women in China, led by Dr. Lina Mu, associate professor of epidemiology and environmental health has been selected to receive funding through the Community for Global Health Equity (CGHE). Supporting the coalescence of productive multidisciplinary teams to generate preliminary data that will support the development of exciting research trajectories is central to CGHE’s mission.

Pregnant women and newborns are the most vulnerable population and their well-being, although improved significantly in the last few decades, is still one of the major global health concerns that needs to be addressed.

Air pollution is now the world’s largest single environmental health risk and airborne insults may interfere with and/or impact the early pregnancy, pregnancy complications, fetus development and birth outcome. To better understand the maternal and neonatal effects of intrauterine air pollution exposure, a large-scale cohort study with better personal air pollution exposure measurement from very early pregnancy is needed.

In this pilot project, researchers will recruit and follow-up 200 pregnant women from participating hospitals in Beijing, China, to better understand how high-pollution environments impact pregnant women and fetuses.

The study aims to:

  • Use personal air sensor data to characterize women’s exposure level to air pollution during each period of pregnancy
  • Assess their relationships with miscarriage, pregnancy complications and birth outcomes
  • Explore the association between child development and intrauterine air pollution exposure.

In addition to Dr. Mu, also involved are faculty members from the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and the School of Public Health and Health Professions. Collaborators include Tsinghua University and several hospitals in Beijing, China.