Ambient Air Pollution and Traffic Exposures and Congenital Heart Defects in the San Joaquin Valley of California



Amy M. Padula, Stanford University, 1265 Welsh Road, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.




Congenital anomalies are a leading cause of infant morbidity and mortality. Studies suggest associations between environmental contaminants and some anomalies, although evidence is limited.


We used data from the California Center of the National Birth Defects Prevention Study and the Children's Health and Air Pollution Study to estimate the odds of 27 congenital heart defects with respect to quartiles of seven ambient air pollutant and traffic exposures in California during the first 2 months of pregnancy, 1997–2006 (n = 822 cases and n = 849 controls).


Particulate matter < 10 microns (PM10) was associated with pulmonary valve stenosis [adjusted odds ratio (aOR)Fourth Quartile = 2.6] [95% confidence intervals (CI) 1.2, 5.7] and perimembranous ventricular septal defects (aORThird Quartile = 2.1) [95% CI 1.1, 3.9] after adjusting for maternal race/ethnicity, education and multivitamin use. PM2.5 was associated with transposition of the great arteries (aORThird Quartile = 2.6) [95% CI 1.1, 6.5] and inversely associated with perimembranous ventricular septal defects (aORFourth Quartile = 0.5) [95% CI 0.2, 0.9]. Secundum atrial septal defects were inversely associated with carbon monoxide (aORFourth Quartile = 0.4) [95% CI 0.2, 0.8] and PM2.5 (aORFourth Quartile = 0.5) [95% CI 0.3, 0.8]. Traffic density was associated with muscular ventricular septal defects (aORFourth Quartile = 3.0) [95% CI 1.2, 7.8] and perimembranous ventricular septal defects (aORThird Quartile = 2.4) [95% CI 1.3, 4.6], and inversely associated with transposition of the great arteries (aORFourth Quartile = 0.3) [95% CI 0.1, 0.8].


PM10 and traffic density may contribute to the occurrence of pulmonary valve stenosis and ventricular septal defects, respectively. The results were mixed for other pollutants and had little consistency with previous studies.