Greenness and birth outcomes in a range of Pennsylvania communities

Joan A. Casey, Peter James, Kara E. Rudolph, Chih Da Wu, Brian S. Schwartz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Citations (Scopus)


Living in communities with more vegetation during pregnancy has been associated with higher birth weights, but fewer studies have evaluated other birth outcomes, and only one has been conducted in the Eastern United States, in regions with a broad range, including high levels, of greenness. We evaluated associations between prenatal residential greenness and birth outcomes (term birth weight, small for gestational age, preterm birth, and low 5 min Apgar score) across a range of community types using electronic health record data from 2006–2013 from the Geisinger Health System in Pennsylvania. We assigned greenness based on mother’s geocoded address using the normalized difference vegetation index from satellite imagery. We used propensity scores to restrict the study population to comparable groups among those living in green vs. less-green areas. Analyses were adjusted for demographic, clinical, and environmental covariates, and stratified by community type (city, borough, and township). In cities, higher greenness (tertiles 2–3 vs. 1) was protective for both preterm (OR = 0.78, 95% CI: 0.61–0.99) and small for gestational age birth (OR = 0.73, 95% CI: 0.58–0.97), but not birth weight or Apgar score. We did not observe associations between greenness and birth outcomes in adjusted models in boroughs or townships. These results add to the evidence that greener cities might be healthier cities.

Original languageEnglish
Article number311
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Mar 11

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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