Residential greenness and birth outcomes: Evaluating the mediation and interaction effects of particulate air pollution

Pei-Chen Lee, Chih-Da Wu, Hui-Ju Tsai, Hsin-Yun Tsai, Sheng-Hsuan Lin, Chia-Kai Wu, Chi-Yen Hung, Tsung-Chieh Yao*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The few studies that examined the association between residential greenness and birth outcomes have produced inconsistent results, and the underlying mechanisms of these associations remain unclear. Objectives: We examined the mediation and interaction effects of particulate matter (PM) air pollution on the relationship between greenness exposure during the first and third trimesters of pregnancy and birth outcomes, including preterm birth (PTB), term low birth weight (TLBW), small for gestational age (SGA), birth weight (BW), and head circumference (HC). Methods: We conducted a retrospective cohort study on 16,184 singleton live births between 2010 and 2012 in Taiwan. Residential greenness was estimated based on the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), and the PM information during the first and third trimesters was estimated through hybrid kriging land use regression and ordinary kriging interpolation methods. Multiple regression analyses were performed to evaluate the associations between greenness exposure and birth outcomes. We estimated the mediating effects of PM associated with greenness exposure on birth outcomes through causal mediation analyses. We also examined the potential multiplicative and additive interactions between greenness exposure and PM and their effects on birth outcomes. Results: The first trimester NDVI exposure was associated with reduced risks for PTB, TLBW, and SGA, which had an adjusted OR (aOR) of 0.93 (95% CI: 0.89-0.97), 0.91 (95% CI: 0.83-0.99), and 0.95 (95% CI: 0.91-1.00), respectively, per 0.1 unit increase in multi-pollutant models. The causal mediation analysis showed that PM mediated approximately 5-19% of the association between first and third trimester greenness and PTB and mediated approximately 15-37% of the association between greenness and SGA. We identified multiplicative interactions in log scale between first trimester PM10 and NDVI exposure for SGA (aOR(interaction) = 0.92, p = 0.03) and HC (estimate(interaction) = 1.47, p = 0.04). Conclusions: This study revealed beneficial associations between residential greenness and birth outcomes, including PTB, TLBW, and SGA. The associations were partly mediated by a reduction in exposure to PM air pollution. Summary: The beneficial effects of greenness on PTB and SGA are partly mediated by a reduction in exposure to PM air pollution.

Original languageEnglish
Article number111915
Number of pages8
JournalEcotoxicology and Environmental Safety
StatePublished - 15 Mar 2021


  • Greenness
  • Particulate matter air pollution
  • Birth outcomes
  • Mediation effect
  • Interaction effect

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