The impact of air pollution on low birth weight and infant mortality

Zoheir Ezziane
  • 1 The Wharton Entrepreneurship and Family Business Research Centre, University of Pennsylvania, CERT Technology Park, P.O. Box 5464, Abu Dhabi, UAE
  • 2 World Health Organization, The Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research, 20 Avenue Appia, 1211 Geneva, Switzerland
  • 3 Higher Colleges of Technology, P.O. Box 17258, Al Ain, UAE
Zoheir Ezziane


This article discusses the impact of environmental factors on birth outcomes during the last two decades. It reiterates the correlation between air pollutants and adverse pregnancy including low birth weight (LBW) and infant mortality. Data sets are assembled for many OECD countries consisting of yearly air pollutants emissions including sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, and volatile organic compounds. Various health data are illustrated to suggest that countries with high emission levels of air pollutants seemed to increase with LBW and infant mortality. This article reports the association of pollutants, including particles and gases, on mortality in general and infant mortality in particular. To assess air pollution impact on infant mortality, Spearman’s correlation is used to summarize and interpret data. This statistical method is used to assess the relationship between air pollution and infant mortality in many OECD countries between 2000 and 2009 using a monotonic function. The results illustrate a positive correlation between air pollution and infant mortality, and in some cases, Spearman’s ρ-value is >0.9 and the p-value is <0.001. This article also backs up the association between some air pollutants and LBW and proposes the importance to design novel models for monitoring, controlling, and reducing air pollutants especially within cities and ultimately improving the well-being of communities worldwide.

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