TitleResidential proximity to greenness and adverse birth outcomes in urban areas: Findings from a national Canadian population-based study.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2021
AuthorsVilleneuve, PJ, Lam, S, Tjepkema, M, Pinault, L, Crouse, DL, Osornio-Vargas, ÁR, Hystad, P, Jerrett, M, Lavigne, E, Stieb, DM
JournalEnviron Res
Date Published11/2021


  • Residential greenness was associated with reduced risks of preterm birth, term low birth weight and small for gestational age.
  • Ambient NO2 and PM2.5 increased the risk of adverse birth outcomes independently from greenness.
  • Urban greenness reduced the risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes regardless of neighbourhood socioeconomic status.


BACKGROUND: Over the last decade, several studies have reported that residential proximity to vegetation, or 'greenness', is associated with improved birth outcomes, including for term birth weight (TBW), preterm birth (PTB), and small for gestational age (SGA). However, there remain several uncertainties about these possible benefits including the role of air pollution, and the extent to they are influenced socioeconomic status.

METHODS: We addressed these gaps using a national population-based study of 2.2 million singleton live births in Canadian metropolitan areas between 1999 and 2008. Exposures to greenness, fine particulate matter (PM), and nitrogen dioxide (NO) were assigned to infants using the postal code of their mother's residence at the time of birth. The Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) was used to characterize greenness, while estimates of ambient PM and NO were estimated using remote sensing, and a national land-use regression surface, respectively. Multivariable regression analysis was performed to describe associations between residential greenness and the birth outcomes. Stratified analyses explored whether these associations were modified by neighbourhood measures of socioeconomic status.

RESULTS: Mothers who lived in greener areas had a lower risk of low TBW, PTB, and SGA babies. These associations persisted after adjustment for ambient NO and PM Specifically, in fully adjusted models, an interquartile range (IQR = 0.16) increase in the NDVI within a residential buffer of 250 m yielded odds ratios of 0.93 (95% confidence interval (CI): 0.92, 0.94), 0.94 (95% CI: 0.92, 0.95), and 0.94 (95% CI: 0.93, 0.95) for the outcomes of PTB, low TBW, and SGA, respectively. Similarly, an IQR increase in greenness was associated with a 16.3 g (95% CI: 15.3, 17.4) increase in TBW. We found inverse associations between greenness and the occurrence of adverse birth outcomes regardless of the socioeconomic status of the neighbourhood.

INTERPRETATION: Our findings support the hypothesis that residential greenness contributes to healthier pregnancies, that these associations are independent from exposure to air pollution. , and that proximity to greenness benefits all mothers regardless of socioeconomic status.

Alternate JournalEnviron Res
PubMed ID34742713