Relative Humidity, Temperature, and Hypertensive Disorders of Pregnancy: Findings from the Project Viva Cohort.

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Preeclampsia is a multi-system hypertensive disorder of pregnancy that is a leading cause of maternal and fetal morbidity and mortality. Prior studies disagree on the cause and even the presence of seasonal patterns in its incidence. Using unsuitable time windows for seasonal exposures can bias model results, potentially explaining these inconsistencies.


We aimed to investigate humidity and temperature as possible causes for seasonal trends in preeclampsia in Project Viva, a prebirth cohort in Boston, Massachusetts, considering only exposure windows that precede disease onset.


Using the Parameter-elevation Relationships on Independent Slopes Model (PRISM) Climate Dataset, we estimated daily residential temperature and relative humidity (RH) exposures during pregnancy. Our primary multinomial regression adjusted for person-level covariates and season. Secondary analyses included distributed lag models (DLMs) and adjusted for ambient air pollutants including fine particulates (PM). We used Generalized Additive Mixed Models (GAMMs) for systolic blood pressure (SBP) trajectories across hypertensive disorder statuses to confirm exposure timing.


While preeclampsia is typically diagnosed late in pregnancy, GAMM-fitted SBP trajectories for preeclamptic and non-preeclamptic women began to diverge at around 20 weeks' gestation, confirming the need to only consider early exposures. In the primary analysis with 1776 women, RH in the early second trimester, weeks 14-20, was associated with significantly higher odds of preeclampsia (OR per IQR increase: 1.81, 95% CI: 1.10, 2.97). The DLM corroborated this window, finding a positive association from weeks 12-20. There were no other significant associations between RH or temperature and preeclampsia or gestational hypertension in any other time period.


The association between preeclampsia and RH in the early second trimester was robust to model choice, suggesting that RH may contribute to seasonal trends in preeclampsia incidence. Differences between these results and those of prior studies could be attributable to exposure timing differences.

Environ Res
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Relative Humidity, Temperature, and Hypertensive Disorders of Pregnancy: Findings from the Project Viva Cohort.
Howe CM, Coull BA, Papatheodorou S, Luttmann-Gibson H, Rifas-Shiman SL, Wilson A, Kloog I, Di Q, Zanobetti A, Koutrakis P, Schwartz JD, Oken E, Gold DR