Person, place and context: the interaction between the social and physical environment on adverse pregnancy outcomes in British Columbia




Erickson, Anders Carl

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This study was a population-based retrospective cohort of all singleton births in British Columbia for the years 2001 to 2006. The purpose of this dissertation is to examine how social and physical environment factors influence the risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes and whether they interact with each other or with maternal characteristics to modify disease risk. The main environmental factors examined include ambient particulate air pollution (PM2.5), neighbourhood socioeconomic status (SES), neighbourhood immigrant density, neighbourhood level of post-secondary education level and the urban-rural context. Census dissemination areas (DAs) were used as the neighbourhood spatial unit. The data (N=242,472) was extracted from the BC Perinatal Data Registry (BCPDR) from Perinatal Services BC (PSBC). The main perinatal outcomes investigated include birth weight and indicators of fetal growth restriction such as small-for-gestational age (SGA), term low birth weight (tLBW), and intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR), preterm birth (PTB) and gestational age, gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) and gestational hypertension (GH). Collectively, this dissertation contributes to the perinatal epidemiological literature linking particulate air pollution and neighbourhood SES context to adverse pregnancy outcomes. Assumptions about the linear effect of PM2.5 and smoking on birth weight are challenged showing that the effects are most pronounced between low and average exposures and that the magnitude of their effect is modified by neighbourhood and individual-level characteristics. These results suggest that focusing exclusively on individual risk factors may have limited success in improving outcomes without addressing the contextual influences at the neighbourhood-level. This dissertation therefore also contributes to the public health, sociological and community-urban development literature demonstrating that context and place matters.



perinatal epidemiology, environmental epidemiology, air pollution, particulate matter, low birth weight, gestational diabetes, preterm birth, social determinants of health, smoking, multilevel models, disease mapping, social environment