Effects of early life exposure to particulates on respiratory health through childhood and adolescence: ALSPAC

Lead Research Organisation: Imperial College London
Department Name: Epidemiology & Public Health

Abstract

Asthma and wheezing illness are major causes of impaired quality of life, use of primary care, consumption of prescribed drugs and hospital admission in children. There is increasing evidence that air pollutants may be important in both causing asthma and related conditions such as childhood wheeze, as well as exacerbating these conditions once they have occurred. There is also evidence that exposures to air pollutants in early life, including of the fetus before birth, may be important. We aim to investigate the long-term effects of exposure to fine particulate air pollution (PM2.5) in the prenatal period and early infancy on allergy, respiratory symptoms, doctor-diagnosed asthma and lung function of children through to adolescence. The research takes advantage of the wealth of existing information from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), one of the largest and best characterised birth cohort studies in the world. Data are available from the antenatal period, with detailed measurement and capture of health data through childhood to age 15+ years. We will supplement these data with estimated exposures to PM2.5 at place of residence during the critical period of lung development from the fetal period until the end of the first year of life. These exposures will reflect both local sources (mainly traffic-related pollution) and long-distance transport of pollutants. Detailed modelling of these exposures will be carried out, together with monitoring in the study area in order to help validate the estimates obtained. Daily estimates of exposure to PM2.5 will then be made, taking account of place of residence and (where relevant) school. Associations between exposures to PM2.5 and the health outcomes will be analysed taking account of other variables that might confound this association including individual socio-economic variables, lifestyle and personal characteristics, as well as other environmental variables such as environmental tobacco smoke and ambient temperature. Results of the research will inform policy on regulation of air pollutants for the protection of public health.

Technical Summary

Asthma and wheezing illness are important causes of impaired quality of life, use of primary care, consumption of prescribed drugs and hospital admission in children. There is increasing evidence that air pollutants may be important in the aetiology as well as exacerbation of asthma and related conditions, including exposures to air pollutants in early life. We aim to investigate the long-term effects of exposure to fine particulate air pollution (PM2.5) in the prenatal period and early infancy on sensitisation to aeroallergens, respiratory symptoms, doctor-diagnosed asthma and lung function of children through to adolescence. The research takes advantage of the wealth of existing information from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), one of the largest and best characterised birth cohort studies in the world. Data are available from the ante-natal period, with detailed measurement and capture of health data through childhood to age 15+ years. We will supplement these data with estimated spatial (largely traffic-related) and temporal exposures to PM2.5 at place of residence during the critical period of lung development from the fetal period until the end of the first year of life. Exposure modelling will be done using a combination of local and trans-boundary (inter-regional) dispersion modelling, based on real-time (hourly) meteorological data, and detailed emissions inventories for all major sources (including road traffic and point industrial emissions). Extensive model validation will be carried out in the study area via purpose-designed monitoring. Daily estimates of exposure to PM2.5 will then be made, taking account of place of residence and (where relevant) school. Associations between exposures and the health outcomes will be analysed in a frequentist setting using logistic and multinomial logistic regression and by hierarchical Bayesian modelling techniques. We will control for potential confounding by individual socio-economic variables, lifestyle and personal characteristics, as well as other environmental variables such as environmental tobacco smoke and ambient temperature. We will include use of measurement error models to improve estimation. Results of the research will inform policy on regulation of air pollutants for the protection of public health.

Publications

10 25 50

publication icon
Cai Y (2020) Prenatal, Early-Life, and Childhood Exposure to Air Pollution and Lung Function: The ALSPAC Cohort. in American journal of respiratory and critical care medicine

 
Description EU FP7 programme
Amount £43,000 (GBP)
Organisation European Commission 
Department Seventh Framework Programme (FP7)
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 05/2009 
End 10/2011
 
Title ALGAE 
Description ALGAE is an automated protocol which can be used to assess historical exposures to air pollution for members of longitudinal cohorts. It was developed as part of a research project between Imperial College's Small Area Health Statistics Unit (SAHSU) and the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC). 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2016 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact ALGAE provides an open access, reusable software infrastructure that can be used across other research projects. It is meant to be a citable community resource that relates to a niche aspect of environmental health. 
URL https://github.com/smallAreaHealthStatisticsUnit/algae
 
Title ALGAE 
Description ALGAE is an automated protocol which can be used to assess historical exposures to air pollution for members of longitudinal cohorts. It was developed as part of a research project between Imperial College's Small Area Health Statistics Unit (SAHSU) and the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC). 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2016 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact No measurable impact to date but provides a solution to geographical mapping of historical address data from cohorts to environmental exposures & will be of generic value to all cohorts with these data. 
URL https://github.com/smallAreaHealthStatisticsUnit/algae
 
Title ALSPAC resource 
Description We have added to the ALSPAC data resource by geocoding the addresses and working on the methods for linkage to personal level exposure. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of Data/Biological Samples 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact This work will improve the final project outputs. 
 
Title Air pollution estimates 
Description We have used data from the Ordnance Survey, Bristol Council and the Meteorological Office to map the spatial variability of particulates from local emission sources. 
Type Of Material Model of mechanisms or symptoms - human 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact This work is the basic input into development of air pollution estimates for the Bristol and Avon study area and will improve future capacity to measure air pollution and exposures accurately in this area. 
 
Title Bayesian air pollution model 
Description A Bayesian model has been developed to increase the accuracy of the particulate estimates combining data from fieldwork in the Bristol and Avon area with local data traffic and meteorological data. 
Type Of Material Model of mechanisms or symptoms - human 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact The predictive capability of this model framework has been validated and has the potential to increase the accuracy of estimates of exposure to air particulates. 
 
Description ALSPAC cohort study data 
Organisation University of Bristol
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Statistical analysis, data modelling
Collaborator Contribution Data provision, data QA and statistical analysis
Impact PMID: 29421397
Start Year 2013
 
Description ALSPAC cohort study exposure data and modelling 
Organisation University of Leicester
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Data linkage and statistical analysis, and drafting of scientific paper
Collaborator Contribution Expertise in environmental exposure assessment at Leicester, and statistical expertise at Oxford
Impact ongoing collaboration - paper accepted for publication
Start Year 2018
 
Description ALSPAC cohort study exposure data and modelling 
Organisation University of Oxford
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Data linkage and statistical analysis, and drafting of scientific paper
Collaborator Contribution Expertise in environmental exposure assessment at Leicester, and statistical expertise at Oxford
Impact ongoing collaboration - paper accepted for publication
Start Year 2018
 
Description ALSPAC data modelling 
Organisation Swiss Tropical & Public Health Institute
Country Switzerland 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Statistical analysis and modelling and data interpretation
Collaborator Contribution Statistical modelling
Impact PMID: 29421397
Start Year 2016
 
Description Air pollution data 
Organisation Bristol City Council
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Our research team has developed and enhanced the basic traffic and emissions data provided by the council to form the basis of improved air pollution estimates.
Collaborator Contribution Assisted with provision of local traffic data eg, daily traffic profiles and digital road geometry for the Bristol and Avon area.
Impact Development of validated model to show temporal and spatial variation in exposures to air pollution in the study area.
Start Year 2010
 
Description Air pollution modelling 
Organisation Meteorological Office UK
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Working witht the Met Office to create models for retrospective exposure assessment
Collaborator Contribution Input into modelling long-range transport of air pollution through the atmosphere.
Impact Ongoing research
Start Year 2009
 
Description Gene-environment interactions 
Organisation Allergen Research Corporation (ARC)
Country United States 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Attendance at a 2010 workshop with AllerGen, Vancouver, to contribute to a consortium investigating the gene-environment interactions of pollutants on asthma. ALSPAC data will be used as a replication cohort when data from this project is available.
Impact Collaboration is ongoing with AllerGen in Canada and through them to the TAG Network at UBC which is planning genomewide G*E interaction analysis (GWIS) with pollution.
Start Year 2010
 
Description Dispersion Model Users' Group, London 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Primary Audience Health professionals
Results and Impact Presentation on "How can we model personal exposure to air pollution?" produced a lively debate on how to improve methods.

Further workshops to be arranged.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2009
 
Description Invited presentation to ISEE annual conference 2018 "Prenatal, early life and lifetime exposure to air pollution and childhood lung function and asthma: The Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) Cohort Study 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Invited oral presentation to International Society of Environmental Epidemiology annual conference; one of the primary annual scientific conferences and forums for reporting and disseminating study results for epidemiologists internationally.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/doi/10.1289/isesisee.2018.P03.1140
 
Description MRC-HPA Investigator Seminar, Imperial College London 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Primary Audience Health professionals
Results and Impact Approx 40 MRC-HPA members attended this seminar on "Cohorts" which presented and discussed data resources available within the Centre to collaborators with the aim of creating new links between researchers.

Lay members of the Centre's Community Advisory Board attended and will assist with further dissemination of Centre activities.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description News coverage of ERS Conference paper 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact 50 news clippings were published about the research about "air pollution linked to increased risk of infant deaths and reduced lung function in children\2, in 14 countries, ready by a potential audience of 93.6 million people
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://conferences.m3medical.com/ers-2019/article/pregnant-women-and-their-offspring-a-high-risk-gr...