Residential exposure to air pollution and access to neighborhood greenspace in relation to hair cortisol concentrations during the second and third trimester of pregnancy

Veerle Josefa Verheyen, Sylvie Remy, Nathalie Lambrechts, Eva Govarts, Ann Colles, Lien Poelmans, Els Verachtert, Wouter Lefebvre, Pieter Monsieurs, Charlotte Vanpoucke, Flemming Nielsen, Lena Van den Eeden, Yves Jacquemyn, Greet Schoeters

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

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Exposure to air pollution during pregnancy has been associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes in studies worldwide, other studies have described beneficial effects of residential greenspace on pregnancy outcomes. The biological mechanisms that underlie these associations are incompletely understood. A biological stress response, which implies release of cortisol, may underlie associations of air pollution exposure and access to neighborhood greenspaces with health.

METHODS: We explored residential exposure to air pollution and residential access to neighborhood greenspaces in relation to hair cortisol concentrations of participants in a prospective pregnancy cohort study in Flanders, Belgium. Hair samples were collected at the end of the second pregnancy trimester (n = 133) and shortly after delivery (n = 81). Cortisol concentrations were measured in 3-cm scalp-near hair sections, to reflect second and third pregnancy trimester cortisol secretion. We estimated long-term (3 months before sampling) residential exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and black carbon (BC), assessed residential distance to major roads and residential access to neighborhood greenspaces (NHGS). Associations between residential exposures and hair cortisol concentrations were studied using linear regression models while adjusting for season of sampling.

RESULTS: Three-month mean residential NO2 and BC concentrations were positively associated with third pregnancy trimester hair cortisol concentrations (p = 0.008 and p = 0.017). Access to a large NHGS (10 ha or more within 800 m from residence) was negatively associated with third trimester hair cortisol concentrations (p = 0.019). Access to a large NHGS significantly moderated the association between residential proximity to major roads and second trimester hair cortisol concentrations (p = 0.021). Residential distance to major roads was negatively associated with second trimester hair cortisol concentrations of participants without access to a large NHGS (p = 0.003). The association was not significant for participants with access to a large NHGS. The moderation tended towards significance in the third pregnancy trimester (p < 0.10).

CONCLUSIONS: Our findings suggest a positive association between long-term residential exposure to air pollution and biological stress during pregnancy, residential access to neighborhood greenspaces may moderate the association. Further research is needed to confirm our results.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: The IPANEMA study is registered under number NCT02592005 at clinicaltrials.gov .

Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironmental health : a global access science source
Volume20
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)11
ISSN1476-069X
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Keywords

  • Adult
  • Air Pollutants/analysis
  • Air Pollution/analysis
  • Belgium
  • Environmental Exposure/analysis
  • Female
  • Hair/chemistry
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone/metabolism
  • Parks, Recreational
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Trimester, Second/metabolism
  • Pregnancy Trimester, Third/metabolism
  • Prospective Studies
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Stress, Psychological/metabolism
  • Vehicle Emissions/analysis

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