Particulate air pollution exposure during pregnancy and postpartum depression symptoms in women in Mexico City

Megan M. Niedzwiecki, Maria José Rosa, Maritsa Solano-González, Itai Kloog, Allan C. Just, Sandra Martínez-Medina, Lourdes Schnaas, Marcela Tamayo-Ortiz, Robert O. Wright, Martha M. Téllez-Rojo, Rosalind J. Wright

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Background: Postpartum depression (PPD), which affects up to 1 in 5 mothers globally, negatively impacts the health of both mothers and children. Exposure to ambient air pollution has been linked to depressive symptoms in animal models and human studies, but the relationship between air pollution and PPD has not been widely studied. Methods: In a birth cohort in Mexico City (509 mothers with available data), we examined the association between exposure to particulate matter ≤2.5 μm in diameter (PM2.5) with symptoms of psychological dysfunction at 1 and 6 months postpartum. Daily PM2.5 estimates were derived from a hybrid satellite-based spatio-temporally resolved model and averaged over pregnancy and the first year postpartum. Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) scores at 1 and 6 months were used to assess the relationship between PM2.5 exposure and probable PPD (EPDS score ≥13) using relative risk regression and symptoms of anhedonia, depression, and anxiety (derived from EPDS subscales) using negative binomial regression. Results: A 5-μg/m3 increase in average PM2.5 exposure during pregnancy was associated with an increased risk of PPD at 6 months (RR = 1.59; 95% CI: 1.11 to 2.28) and of late-onset PPD (no PPD at 1 month, PPD at 6 months) (RR = 2.58; 95% CI: 1.40 to 4.73) in covariate-adjusted models. No association was observed between PM2.5 exposure in the first year postpartum and PPD. Average PM2.5 exposure during pregnancy was also associated with increased 6-month EPDS subscale symptom scores for anhedonia (p = 0.03) and depression (p = 0.04). Conclusion: Our results suggest that in women in Mexico City, particulate matter exposure during pregnancy is positively associated with PPD and symptoms of anhedonia and depression at 6 months postpartum. Future studies should examine mechanisms linking air pollution and other environmental exposures during pregnancy with postpartum psychological functioning.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105325
JournalEnvironment international
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science


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