J Epidemiol Community Health 61:719-722 doi:10.1136/jech.2006.053942
  • Research report

Outdoor air pollution and infant mortality: analysis of daily time-series data in 10 English cities

  1. Shakoor Hajat1,
  2. Ben Armstrong1,
  3. Paul Wilkinson1,
  4. Araceli Busby1,
  5. Helen Dolk2
  1. 1London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, UK
  2. 2University of Ulster, Newtownabbey, Co Antrim, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
 DrS Hajat
 Public & Environmental Health Research Unit, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Keppel Street, London WC1E 7HT, UK; shakoor.hajat{at}
  • Accepted 30 October 2006


Background: There is growing concern that moderate levels of outdoor air pollution may be associated with infant mortality, representing substantial loss of life-years. To date, there has been no investigation of the effects of outdoor pollution on infant mortality in the UK.

Methods: Daily time-series data of air pollution and all infant deaths between 1990 and 2000 in 10 major cities of England: Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Middlesbrough, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield, were analysed. City-specific estimates were pooled across cities in a fixed-effects meta-regression to provide a mean estimate.

Results: Few associations were observed between infant deaths and most pollutants studied. The exception was sulphur dioxide (SO2), of which a 10 μg/m3 increase was associated with a RR of 1.02 (95% CI 1.01 to 1.04) in all infant deaths. The effect was present in both neonatal and postneonatal deaths.

Conclusions: Continuing reductions in SO2 levels in the UK may yield additional health benefits for infants.


  • Competing interests: None declared.