Impacts of high temperature on adverse birth outcomes in Seoul, Korea: Disparities by individual- and community-level characteristics

Ji Young Son, Jong Tae Lee, Kevin J. Lane, Michelle L. Bell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Few studies have examined temperature's effect on adverse birth outcomes and relevant effect modifiers. Objectives: We investigated associations between heat and adverse birth outcomes and how individual and community characteristics affect these associations for Seoul, Korea, 2004–2012. Methods: We applied logistic regression to estimate associations between heat index during pregnancy, 4 weeks before delivery, and 1 week before delivery and risk of preterm birth and term low birth weight. We investigated effect modification by individual (infant's sex, mother's age, and mother's educational level) and community characteristics (socioeconomic status (SES) and percentage of green areas near residence at the gu level, which is similar to borough in Western countries). We also evaluated associations by combinations of individual- and community-level SES. Results: Heat exposure during whole pregnancy was significantly associated with risk of preterm birth. An interquartile (IQR) increase (5.5 °C) in heat index during whole pregnancy was associated with an odds ratio (OR) of 1.033 (95% CI 1.005, 1.061) with NO2 adjustment, and 1.028 (95% CI 0.998, 1.059) with PM10 adjustment, for preterm birth. We also found significant associations with heat exposure during 4 weeks before delivery and 1 week before delivery on preterm birth. We did not observe significant associations with term low birth weight. Higher risk of heat on preterm birth was associated with some individual characteristics such as infants with younger or older mothers and lower community-level SES. For combinations of individual- and community-level SES, the highest and most significant estimated effect was found for infants with low educated mothers living in low SES communities, with suggestions of effects of both individual-and community-level SES. Conclusions: Our findings have implications for evaluating impacts of high temperatures on birth outcomes, estimating health impacts of climate change, and identifying which subpopulations and factors are most relevant for disparities in this association.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)460-466
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental Research
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Jan


  • Adverse birth outcomes
  • Disparities
  • Effect modifiers
  • Heat exposure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Environmental Science(all)


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