Prenatal Ambient Air Pollution and Fetal and Child Development in South China

Principal Investigator: Jere Behrman, W.R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Economics

Lead School: School of Arts and Sciences, Population Studies Center

Penn Partners: Perelman School of Medicine (Department of Pharmacology); Graduate School of Education (Department of Psychology); School of Arts and Sciences (Department of Sociology); Center for the Study of Contemporary China

Chinese Partners: Guangdong Women and Children’s Hospital

Project Abstract

The impact of high levels of air pollution on pregnancy and birth outcomes in China has not been studied extensively, although research suggests that pregnant women and fetuses are very vulnerable to the effects of air pollution. Through this project, the team will collect and analyze the first large-scale prospective birth cohort data set in China with measurements of prenatal ambient air pollution exposure at the individual level. Researchers will investigate effects of air pollution on pregnancy outcomes and children's early physical, cognitive and socio-emotional development in south China. Analyses will exploit the spatial and seasonal variation in ambient air pollution; consider the endogeneity of parental investments based on birth outcomes; and estimate a production function of early child development skills with prenatal air pollution exposure as one critical input.

This project brings together leading scholars from the U.S. and China to examine these issues, challenges and opportunities through conferences at PWCC and Penn that will produce scholarly volume(s), engage students and faculty at Penn, and reach wider policy and public audiences.