• Ambient air pollution and low birthweight: a European cohort study (ESCAPE)

      Pedersen, M.; Giorgis-Allemand, L.; Bernard, C.; Aguilera, I.; Andersen, A.N.; Ballester, F.; Beelen, R.M.J.; Chatzi, L.; Cirach, M.; Danileviciute, A.; et al. (2013)
      Ambient air pollution has been associated with restricted fetal growth, which is linked with adverse respiratory health in childhood. We assessed the effect of maternal exposure to low concentrations of ambient air pollution on birthweight. We pooled data from 14 population-based mother-child cohort studies in 12 European countries. Overall, the study population included 74-178 women who had singleton deliveries between Feb 11, 1994, and June 2, 2011, and for whom information about infant birthweight, gestational age, and sex was available. The primary outcome of interest was low birthweight at term (weight <2500 g at birth after 37 weeks of gestation). Mean concentrations of particulate matter with an aerodynamic diameter of less than 2·5 μm (PM2·5), less than 10 μm (PM10), and between 2·5 μm and 10 μm during pregnancy were estimated at maternal home addresses with temporally adjusted land-use regression models, as was PM2·5 absorbance and concentrations of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and nitrogen oxides. We also investigated traffic density on the nearest road and total traffic load. We calculated pooled effect estimates with random-effects models. A 5 μg/m3 increase in concentration of PM2·5 during pregnancy was associated with an increased risk of low birthweight at term (adjusted odds ratio [OR] 1·18, 95% CI 1·06-1·33). An increased risk was also recorded for pregnancy concentrations lower than the present European Union annual PM2·5 limit of 25 μg/m3 (OR for 5 μg/m3 increase in participants exposed to concentrations of less than 20 μg/m3 1·41, 95% CI 1·20-1·65). PM10 (OR for 10 μg/m3 increase 1·16, 95% CI 1·00-1·35), NO2 (OR for 10 μg/m3 increase 1·09, 1·00-1·19), and traffic density on nearest street (OR for increase of 5000 vehicles per day 1·06, 1·01-1·11) were also associated with increased risk of low birthweight at term. The population attributable risk estimated for a reduction in PM2·5 concentration to 10 μg/m3 during pregnancy corresponded to a decrease of 22% (95% CI 8-33%) in cases of low birthweight at term. Exposure to ambient air pollutants and traffic during pregnancy is associated with restricted fetal growth. A substantial proportion of cases of low birthweight at term could be prevented in Europe if urban air pollution was reduced.
    • The Human Early-Life Exposome (HELIX): Project Rationale and Design.

      Vrijheid, M.; Slama, R.; Robinson, O.; Chatzi, L.; Coen, M.; van den Hazel, P.; Thomsen, C.; Wright, J.; Athersuch, T.J.; Avellana, N.; et al. (2014-06-01)
      Background: Developmental periods in early life may be particularly vulnerable to impacts of environmental exposures. Human research on this topic has generally focused on single exposure–health effect relationships. The “exposome” concept encompasses the totality of exposures from conception onward, complementing the genome. Objectives: The Human Early-Life Exposome (HELIX) project is a new collaborative research project that aims to implement novel exposure assessment and biomarker methods to characterize early-life exposure to multiple environmental factors and associate these with omics biomarkers and child health outcomes, thus characterizing the “early-life exposome.” Here we describe the general design of the project. Methods: In six existing birth cohort studies in Europe, HELIX will estimate prenatal and postnatal exposure to a broad range of chemical and physical exposures. Exposure models will be developed for the full cohorts totaling 32,000 mother–child pairs, and biomarkers will be measured in a subset of 1,200 mother–child pairs. Nested repeat-sampling panel studies (n = 150) will collect data on biomarker variability, use smartphones to assess mobility and physical activity, and perform personal exposure monitoring. Omics techniques will determine molecular profiles (metabolome, proteome, transcriptome, epigenome) associated with exposures. Statistical methods for multiple exposures will provide exposure–response estimates for fetal and child growth, obesity, neurodevelopment, and respiratory outcomes. A health impact assessment exercise will evaluate risks and benefits of combined exposures. Conclusions: HELIX is one of the first attempts to describe the early-life exposome of European populations and unravel its relation to omics markers and health in childhood. As proof of concept, it will form an important first step toward the life-course exposome.