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Impact of Saharan dust episodes on preterm births in Guadeloupe (French West Indies)

Abstract

Objectives Large amounts of mineral dust are transported from their African sources in the Saharan-Sahel region to the Caribbean Sea, generating peak exposures to particulate matter ≤10 µm (PM10). This study aimed to investigate the impact of Saharan dust episodes on preterm births in the Guadeloupe archipelago.

Methods The study population consisted of 909 pregnant women who were enrolled in the TIMOUN mother-child cohort between 2004 and 2007. Desert dust episodes were assessed from PM10 concentrations recorded at the unique background air quality monitoring station located in Pointe-à-Pitre. For each woman, the daily PM10 concentrations were averaged over the entire pregnancy, and the proportion of days with intense dust episodes (≥55 µg PM10/m3) during pregnancy was calculated. Weighted logistic regression models adjusting for known individual sociomedical risk factors were used to estimate ORs and 95% CIs for preterm birth.

Results During pregnancy, the mean PM10 concentrations ranged from 13.17 to 34.92 µg/m3, whereas the proportion of intense dust events ranged from 0.00% to 19.41%. Increased adjusted ORs were found for both the mean PM10 concentrations and the proportion of intense dust events (OR 1.40, 95% CI 1.08 to 1.81, and OR 1.54, 95% CI 1.21 to 1.98 per SD change, respectively). Restriction to spontaneous preterm births produced similar ORs but with wider 95% CIs.

Conclusion Considering the personal and social burden of this adverse pregnancy outcome, this finding is of importance for both healthcare workers and policy makers to provide necessary preventive measures.

  • preterm birth
  • particulate matter
  • desert dust
  • guadeloupe archipelago
  • French West Indies
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