Air pollution and bronchiolitis: a case-control study in Antwerp, Belgium

D Van Brusselen, K De Troeyer, MP van Vliet, Dirk Avonts, B Nemery, L Liesenborghs, S Verhulst, K Van Herck, D De Bacquer

Research output: Contribution to journalA1: Web of Science-articlepeer-review


This case–control study aimed to investigate the association between short-term (1 to 5 days) and medium-term (31 days) exposure to air pollutants (PM2.5, PM10, BC, NO2) at home/daycare and the risk of ‘severe bronchiolitis’ (defined as ‘requiring hospitalization for bronchiolitis’) in children under 2 years in Antwerp, Belgium. We included 118 cases and 79 controls admitted to three general hospitals from October 2020 to June 2021. Exposure levels were predicted using an interpolation model based on fixed measuring stations. We used unconditional logistic regression analysis to assess associations, with adjustment for potential confounders. There were hardly any significant differences in the day-to-day air pollution values between cases and controls. Medium-term (31 days) exposure to PM2.5, PM10, and NO2 was however significantly higher in cases than controls in univariate analysis. Logistic regression revealed an association between severe bronchiolitis and interquartile range (IQR) increases of PM2.5 and PM10 at home and in daycare, as well as IQR increases of NO2 in daycare. Controls were however overrepresented in low pollution periods. Time-adjustment reduced the odds ratios significantly at home for PM2.5 and PM10 (aOR 1.54, 95%CI 0.51–4.65; and 2.69, 95%CI 0.94–7.69 respectively), and in daycare for. PM2.5 (aOR 2.43, 95%CI 0.58–10.1). However, the association between severe bronchiolitis and medium-term air pollution was retained in daycare for IQR increases of PM10 (aOR 5.13, 95%CI 1.24–21.28) and NO2 (aOR 3.88, 95%CI 1.56–9.61) in the time-adjusted model.

Conclusion: This study suggests a possible link between severe bronchiolitis and medium-term (31 days) air pollution exposure (PM10 and NO2), particularly in daycare. Larger studies are warranted to confirm these findings.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Pediatrics
Number of pages12
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2024


  • Air pollution
  • Bronchiolitis
  • Nitrogen dioxide
  • Particulate Matter
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus


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