Surrounding Greenness and Pregnancy Outcomes in Four Spanish Birth Cohorts

Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology (CREAL), Barcelona, Spain
Environmental Health Perspectives (Impact Factor: 7.98). 08/2012; 120(10):1481-7. DOI: 10.1289/ehp.1205244
Source: PubMed


Background: Green spaces have been associated with improved physical and mental health; however, the available evidence on the impact of green spaces on pregnancy is scarce.
Objectives: We investigated the association between surrounding greenness and birth weight, head circumference, and gestational age at delivery.
Methods: This study was based on 2,393 singleton live births from four Spanish birth cohorts (Asturias, Gipuzkoa, Sabadell, and Valencia) located in two regions of the Iberian Peninsula with distinct climates and vegetation patterns (2003–2008). We defined surrounding greenness as average of satellite-based Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) (Landsat 4–5 TM data at 30 m × 30 m resolution) during 2007 in buffers of 100 m, 250 m, and 500 m around each maternal place of residence. Separate linear mixed models with adjustment for potential confounders and a random cohort effect were used to estimate the change in birth weight, head circumference, and gestational age for 1-interquartile range increase in surrounding greenness.
Results: Higher surrounding greenness was associated with increases in birth weight and head circumference [adjusted regression coefficients (95% confidence interval) of 44.2 g (20.2 g, 68.2 g) and 1.7 mm (0.5 mm, 2.9 mm) for an interquartile range increase in average NDVI within a 500-m buffer] but not gestational age. These findings were robust against the choice of the buffer size and the season of data acquisition for surrounding greenness, and when the analysis was limited to term births. Stratified analyses indicated stronger associations among children of mothers with lower education, suggesting greater benefits from surrounding greenness.
Conclusions: Our findings suggest a beneficial impact of surrounding greenness on measures of fetal growth but not pregnancy length.

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    • "A cross-sectional study in the U.S. showed lower asthma prevalence among children living in areas with more street trees (Lovasi et al., 2008). Several studies in the U.S. and Spain have found a reduced risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes such as low birth weight in greener residential areas, especially among mothers with lower education (Donovan et al., 2011;Dadvand et al., 2012a;Dadvand et al., 2012b). In Australia, access to green public open spaces was found to be associated with a more healthy cardiometabolic profile (Paquet et al., 2013) "

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    • "Beneficial human responses include physical activity that can reduce incidences of chronic diseases, physiological stress moderation, and improved mental health. For instance, urban forest canopy proximate to households has been associated with higher infant birth weight (Dadvand et al. 2012), and green urban neighborhoods with reductions in elder mortality (Takano et al. 2002). "
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    • "A 500-m buffer, which was assumed to be a proxy for a child's neighbourhood, should represent a distance reachable within 10 min of walking (Villeneuve et al., 2012) as children have limited mobility compared to adults (Duncan et al., 2011). Previous studies examining the effects of green spaces on children and adult health have also used this buffer size (Dadvand et al., 2012; Kyttä et al., 2012; Villeneuve et al., 2012). We repeated this analysis using a 300-m buffer, which is in-line with the European Commission's recommendations for access to green spaces (Ludlow et al., 2003). "
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