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>3% of Preterm Births Attributed to Exposure to Particulate Matter

Attributable preterm birth costs estimated at $4.33 billion, of which $760 million spent on medical care

WEDNESDAY, March 30, 2016 (HealthDay News) — More than 3 percent of preterm births (PTBs) nationally can be attributed to exposure to particulate matter <2.5 microns in diameter (PM2.5), according to a study published online March 29 in Environmental Health Perspectives.

Leonardo Trasande, M.D., from the New York University School of Medicine in New York City, and colleagues estimated the burden of PTB in the United States and the costs attributed to PM2.5 exposure. To obtain an estimate that better represents the true relative risk, PTB odds ratios identified in a previous meta-analysis were converted to relative risks. These estimates and county-level PTB prevalence were used to quantify PTB attributable to PM2.5. The direct costs associated with PTB were obtained from the 2007 Institute of Medicine report.

The researchers found that 3.32 percent of PTBs nationally could be attributed to PM2.5 in 2010. The attributable costs were estimated at $4.33 billion, of which $760 million were spent for medical care. Urban counties had the highest estimated PM2.5-attributable fraction of PTBs, with the highest attributable fraction observed in the Ohio valley and Southern United States.

“PM2.5 may contribute substantially to burden and costs of PTB in the Unites States, and considerable health and economic benefits could be achieved through environmental regulatory interventions that reduce PM2.5 exposure in pregnancy,” the authors write.

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