A prospective study of the impact of air pollution on respiratory symptoms and infections in infants

Stern Meggers, Georgette; Latzin, Philipp; Röösli, Martin; Fuchs, Oliver; Proietti, Elena; Kuehni, Claudia; Frey, Urs Peter (2013). A prospective study of the impact of air pollution on respiratory symptoms and infections in infants. American journal of respiratory and critical care medicine, 187(12), pp. 1341-1348. New York, N.Y.: American Lung Association 10.1164/rccm.201211-2008OC

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Rationale: There is increasing evidence that short-term exposure to air pollution has a detrimental effect on respiratory health, but data from healthy populations, particularly infants, are scarce. Objectives: To assess the association of air pollution with frequency and severity of respiratory symptoms and infections measured weekly in healthy infants. Methods: In a prospective birth cohort of 366 infants of unselected mothers, respiratory health was assessed weekly by telephone interviews during the first year of life (19,106 total observations). Daily mean levels of particulate matter (PM10), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), and ozone (O3) were obtained from local monitoring stations. We determined the association of the preceding week's pollutant levels with symptom scores and respiratory tract infections using a generalized additive mixed model with an autoregressive component. In addition, we assessed whether neonatal lung function influences this association and whether duration of infectious episodes differed between weeks with normal PM10 and weeks with elevated levels. Measurements and Main Results: We found a significant association between air pollution and respiratory symptoms, particularly in the week after respiratory tract infections (risk ratio, 1.13 [1.02-1.24] per 10 μg/m(3) PM10 levels) and in infants with premorbid lung function. During times of elevated PM10 (>33.3 μg/m(3)), duration of respiratory tract infections increased by 20% (95% confidence interval, 2-42%). Conclusions: Exposure to even moderate levels of air pollution was associated with increased respiratory symptoms in healthy infants. Particularly in infants with premorbid lung function and inflammation, air pollution contributed to longer duration of infectious episodes with a potentially large socioeconomic impact.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Pre-clinic Human Medicine > BioMedical Research (DBMR) > Unit Childrens Hospital > Forschungsgruppe Pneumologie (Pädiatrie)
04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Gynaecology, Paediatrics and Endocrinology (DFKE) > Clinic of Paediatric Medicine
04 Faculty of Medicine > Pre-clinic Human Medicine > Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine (ISPM)

Graduate School:

Graduate School for Cellular and Biomedical Sciences (GCB)

UniBE Contributor:

Stern Meggers, Georgette, Latzin, Philipp, Röösli, Martin, Fuchs, Oliver, Proietti, Elena, Kühni, Claudia, Frey, Urs Peter


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health
300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 360 Social problems & social services




American Lung Association




Anette van Dorland

Date Deposited:

04 Oct 2013 14:40

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 14:12

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:


Web of Science ID:





https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/16526 (FactScience: 224179)

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