Publications by authors named "Akram Alshawabekeh"

2 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Preterm birth and PM in Puerto Rico: evidence from the PROTECT birth cohort.

Environ Health 2021 06 11;20(1):69. Epub 2021 Jun 11.

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Tufts University, Anderson Hall, 200 College Avenue, Medford, MA, 02155, USA.

Background: Preterm birth (PTB, birth before 37 weeks of gestation) has been associated with adverse health outcomes across the lifespan. Evidence on the association between PTB and prenatal exposure to air pollutants is inconsistent, and is especially lacking for ethnic/racial minority populations.

Methods: We obtained data on maternal characteristics and behaviors and PTB and other birth outcomes for women participating in the Puerto Rico Testsite for Exploring Contamination Threats (PROTECT) cohort, who lived in municipalities located along the North Coast of Puerto Rico. We assessed pre-natal PM exposures for each infant based on the nearest US Environmental Protection Agency monitor. We estimated prenatal phthalate exposures as the geometric mean of urinary measurements obtained during pregnancy. We then examined the association between PM and PTB using modified Poisson regression and assessed modification of the association by phthalate exposure levels and sociodemographic factors such as maternal age and infant gender.

Results: Among 1092 singleton births, 9.1% of infants were born preterm and 92.9% of mothers had at least a high school education. Mothers had a mean (standard deviation) age of 26.9 (5.5) years and a median (range) of 2.0 (1.0-8.0) pregnancies. Nearly all women were Hispanic white, black, or mixed race. Median (range) prenatal PM concentrations were 6.0 (3.1-19.8) μ g/m. Median (interquartile range) prenatal phthalate levels were 14.9 (8.9-26.0) and 14.5 (8.4-26.0), respectively, for di-n-butyl phthalate (DBP) and di-isobutyl phthalate (DiBP). An interquartile range increase in PM was associated with a 1.2% (95% CI 0.4, 2.1%) higher risk of PTB. There was little difference in PTB risk in strata of infant sex, mother's age, family income, history of adverse birth outcome, parity, and pre-pregnancy body mass index. Pregnancy urinary phthalate metabolite levels did not modify the PM-PTB association.

Conclusion: Among ethnic minority women in Puerto Rico, prenatal PM exposure is associated with a small but significant increase in risk of PTB.
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June 2021

Non-nutritive suck and airborne metal exposures among Puerto Rican infants.

Sci Total Environ 2021 Oct 26;789:148008. Epub 2021 May 26.

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Tufts University, 200 College Ave, Medford, MA 02155, USA. Electronic address:

Air pollution has been shown to impact multiple measures of neurodevelopment in young children. Its effects on particularly vulnerable populations, such as ethnic minorities, however, is less studied. To address this gap in the literature, we assess the associations between infant non-nutritive suck (NNS), an early indicator of central nervous system integrity, and air pollution exposures in Puerto Rico. Among infants aged 0-3 months enrolled in the Center for Research on Early Childhood Exposure and Development (CRECE) cohort from 2017 to 2019, we examined associations between exposure to fine particulate matter (PM) and its components on infant NNS in Puerto Rico. NNS was assessed using a pacifier attached to a pressure transducer, allowing for real-time visualization of NNS amplitude, frequency, duration, cycles/burst, cycles/min and bursts/min. These data were linked to 9-month average prenatal concentrations of PM and components, measured at three community monitoring sites. We used linear regression to examine the PM-NNS association in single pollutant models, controlling for infant sex, maternal age, gestational age, and season of birth in base and additionally for household smoke exposure, age at testing, and NNS duration in full models. Among 198 infants, the average NNS amplitude and burst duration was 17.1 cmHO and 6.1 s, respectively. Decreased NNS amplitude was consistently and significantly associated with 9-month average exposure to sulfur (-1.026 ± 0.507), zinc (-1.091 ± 0.503), copper (-1.096 ± 0.535) vanadium (-1.157 ± 0.537), and nickel (-1.530 ± 0.501). Decrements in NNS frequency were associated with sulfur exposure (0.036 ± 0.018), but not other examined PM components. Our findings provide new evidence that prenatal maternal exposure to specific PM components are associated with impaired neurodevelopment in Puerto Rican infants soon after birth.
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October 2021