The influence of the built environment on adverse birth outcomes

Adverse birth outcomes are associated with neonatal morbidity and mortality, and higher risk for coronary heart disease, non-insulin-dependent diabetes and hypertension in adulthood. Although there has been considerable research investigating the association between maternal and environmental factors on adverse birth outcomes, one risk factor, not fully understood, is the influence of the built environment. A search of MEDLINE, Scopus, and Cochrane was conducted to find articles assessing the influence of the built environment on preterm birth (PTB), low birth weight (LBW), and small-for-gestational-age (SGA). In total, 41 studies met our inclusion criteria, and were organized into nine categories: Roadways, Greenness, Power Plants, Gas Stations/Wells, Waste Management, Power Lines, Neighborhood Conditions, Food Environment, and Industry. The most common built environmental variable was roads/traffic, encompassing 17/41 (41%) of the articles reviewed, of which 12/17 (71%) found a significant small to moderate association between high traffic exposure and adverse birth outcomes.

*Corresponding Author: 

Dr. Jamie A. Seabrook, Brescia University College at Western University, 1285 Western Road, London, ON, N6G 1H2, Canada. Tel.: +1 519 432 8353/EXT. 28284; Fax: +1 519 858 5137; E-mail: