Prenatal PM2.5 exposure and infant temperament at age 6 months: Sensitive windows and sex-specific associations

Fataha Rahman, Brent A. Coull, Kecia N. Carroll, Ander Wilson, Allan C. Just, Itai Kloog, Xueying Zhang, Rosalind J. Wright, Yueh Hsiu Mathilda Chiu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Background: Prenatal exposure to fine particulate matter with a diameter of ≤2.5 μm (PM2.5) has been linked to adverse neurodevelopmental outcomes in later childhood, while research on early infant behavior remains sparse. Objectives: We examined associations between prenatal PM2.5 exposure and infant negative affectivity, a stable temperamental trait associated with longer-term behavioral and mental health outcomes. We also examined sex-specific effects. Methods: Analyses included 559 mother-infant pairs enrolled in the PRogramming of Intergenerational Stress Mechanisms (PRISM) cohort. Daily PM2.5 exposure based on geocoded residential address during pregnancy was estimated using a satellite-based spatiotemporal model. Domains of negative affectivity (Sadness, Distress to Limitations, Fear, Falling Reactivity) were assessed using the Infant Behavior Questionnaire-Revised (IBQ-R) when infants were 6 months old. Subscale scores were calculated as the mean of item-specific responses; the global Negative Affectivity (NA) score was derived by averaging the mean of the four subscale scores. Bayesian distributed lag interaction models (BDLIMs) were used to identify sensitive windows for prenatal PM2.5 exposure on global NA and its subscales, and to examine effect modification by sex. Results: Mothers were primarily racial/ethnic minorities (38% Black, 37% Hispanic), 40% had ≤12 years of education; most did not smoke during pregnancy (87%). In the overall sample, BDLIMs revealed that increased PM2.5 at mid-pregnancy was associated with higher global NA, Sadness, and Fear scores, after adjusting for covariates (maternal age, education, race/ethnicity, sex). Among boys, increased PM2.5 at early pregnancy was associated with decreased Fear scores, while exposure during late pregnancy was associated with increased Fear scores (cumulative effect estimate = 0.57, 95% CI: 0.03–1.41). Among girls, increased PM2.5 during mid-pregnancy was associated with higher Fear scores (cumulative effect estimate = 0.82, 95% CI: 0.05–1.91). Conclusions: Prenatal PM2.5 exposure was associated with negative affectivity at age 6 months, and the sensitive windows may vary by subdomains and infant sex.

Original languageEnglish
Article number112583
JournalEnvironmental Research
StatePublished - 15 Apr 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Developmental origins of health and disease
  • Fear
  • Infant temperament
  • Negative affectivity
  • Prenatal air pollution exposure
  • Sex difference

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science
  • Biochemistry


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