Occupational exposure to inorganic particles during pregnancy and birth outcomes: A nationwide cohort study in Sweden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Objectives The aim of this study was to investigate if occupational exposure to inorganic particles or welding fumes during pregnancy is associated with negative birth outcomes. Design A prospective national cohort study. Setting All single births from 1994 to 2012 in Sweden. Information on birth weight, preterm birth, small for gestational age, smoking habits, nationality, age, occupation, absence from work and education was obtained from nationwide registers. Exposure to inorganic particles (mg/m 3) was assessed from a job exposure matrix. Participants This study included all single births by occupationally active mothers (995 843). Outcome measures Associations between occupational exposures and negative birth outcomes in the form of low birth weight, preterm birth and small for gestational age. Results Mothers who had high exposure to inorganic particles and had less than 50 days (median) of absence from work during pregnancy showed an increased risk of preterm birth (OR 1.18; 95% CI 1.07 to 1.30), low birth weight (OR 1.32; 95% CI 1.18 to 1.48) as well as small for gestational age (OR 1.20; 95% CI 1.04 to 1.39). The increased risks were driven by exposure to iron particles. No increased risks were found in association with exposure to stone and concrete particles. High exposure to welding fumes was associated with an increased risk of low birth weight (OR 1.22; 95% CI 1.02 to 1.45) and preterm birth (OR 1.24; 95% CI 1.07 to 1.42). Conclusions The results indicate that pregnant women should not be exposed to high levels of iron particles or welding fumes.


External organisations
  • Karolinska Institutet
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Environmental Health and Occupational Health


  • air pollution and welding, epidemiology, female reproductive effects and adverse pregnancy outcomes, inorganic dusts
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere023879
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Feb 27
Publication categoryResearch