Telomere length in newborns is associated with exposure to low levels of air pollution during pregnancy

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  • Rebecca Harnung Scholten, Department of Public Health, Section of Environmental Health, University of Copenhagen, Øster Farimagsgade 5A, DK-1014, Copenhagen K, Denmark. pemo@sund.ku.dk.
  • ,
  • Peter Møller, Department of Public Health, Section of Environmental Health, University of Copenhagen, Øster Farimagsgade 5A, DK-1014, Copenhagen K, Denmark. pemo@sund.ku.dk.
  • ,
  • Zorana Jovanovic Andersen, Nykøbing Falster Hospital, Center for Epidemiological Research, Ejegodvej 63, DK-4800 Nykøbing, Denmark
  • ,
  • Christian Dehlendorff, Statistics and Data Analysis, Danish Cancer Society Research Center, Copenhagen, Denmark
  • ,
  • Jibran Khan
  • Jørgen Brandt
  • Matthias Ketzel
  • Lisbeth E. Knudsen, Department of Public Health, Section of Environmental Health, University of Copenhagen, Øster Farimagsgade 5A, DK-1014, Copenhagen K, Denmark. pemo@sund.ku.dk.
  • ,
  • Line Mathiesen, Department of Public Health, Section of Environmental Health, University of Copenhagen, Øster Farimagsgade 5A, DK-1014, Copenhagen K, Denmark. pemo@sund.ku.dk.
Telomere length (TL) is a biomarker of biological aging that may be affected by prenatal exposure to air
pollution. The aim of this study was to assess the association between prenatal exposure to air pollution and TL in
maternal blood cells (leukocytes), placenta and umbilical cord blood cells, sampled immediately after birth in
296 Danish mother-child pairs from a birth cohort. Exposure data was obtained using the high-resolution and
spatial–temporal air pollution modeling system DEHM-UBM-AirGIS for PM2.5, PM10, SO2, NH4+, black carbon
(BC), organic carbon (OC), CO, O3, NO2, and NOx at residential and occupational addresses of the participating
women for the full duration of the pregnancy. The association between prenatal exposure to air pollutants and TL
was investigated using distributed lag models. There were significant and positive associations between TL in
umbilical cord blood cells and prenatal exposure to BC, OC, NO2, NOx, CO, and O3 during the second trimester.
TL in umbilical cord blood was significantly and inversely associated with prenatal exposure to PM2.5, BC, OC,
SO2, NH4+, CO and NO2 during the third trimester. There were similar inverse associations between TL from
umbilical cord blood cells and air pollution exposure at the residential and occupational addresses. There were
weaker or no associations between air pollution exposure and TL in placenta tissue and maternal blood cells. In
conclusion, both the second and third trimesters of pregnancy are shown to be sensitive windows of exposure to
air pollution affecting fetal TL.
Original languageEnglish
Article number106202
JournalEnvironment International
Volume146
Number of pages11
ISSN0160-4120
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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