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Background: The exposome is defined as the totality of environmental exposures from conception onwards. It calls for providing a holistic view of environmental exposures and their effects on human health by evaluating multiple environmental exposures simultaneously during critical periods of life. Objective: We evaluated the association of the urban exposome with birth weight. Methods: We estimated exposure to the urban exposome, including the built environment, air pollution, road traffic noise, meteorology, natural space, and road traffic (corresponding to 24 environmental indicators and 60 exposures) for nearly 32,000 pregnant women from six European birth cohorts. To evaluate associations with either continuous birth weight or term low birth weight (TLBW) risk, we primarily relied on the Deletion-Substitution-Addition (DSA) algorithm, which is an extension of the stepwise variable selection method. Second, we used an exposure-by-exposure exposome-wide association studies (ExWAS) method accounting for multiple hypotheses testing to report associations not adjusted for coexposures. Results: The most consistent statistically significant associations were observed between increasing green space exposure estimated as Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) and increased birth weight and decreased TLBW risk. Furthermore, we observed statistically significant associations among presence of public bus line, land use Shannon's Evenness Index, and traffic density and birth weight in our DSA analysis. Conclusion: This investigation is the first large urban exposome study of birth weight that tests many environmental urban exposures. It confirmed previously reported associations for NDVI and generated new hypotheses for a number of built-environment exposures.


Mary MacKillop Institute for Health Research

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Open Access Journal Article

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Open Access