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Original article Decreased birth weight after prenatal exposure during wildfires on the eastern coast of the Republic of Korea in 2000
En-Joo Jung1orcid , Ah-Young Lim2orcid , Jong-Hun Kim2orcid
Epidemiol Health 2022;e2023003
DOI: https://doi.org/10.4178/epih.e2023003 [Accepted]
Published online: December 9, 2022
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1Department of Public Medical Center, Seoul National University Bundang Hospital, Seongnam, Korea
2Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, Suwon, Korea
Corresponding author:  Jong-Hun Kim,
Email: kimjh32@skku.edu
Received: 1 September 2022   • Revised: 14 November 2022   • Accepted: 9 December 2022

Objectives
In April 2000, a series of wildfires occurred simultaneously in five adjacent small cities located on the eastern coast of the Republic of Korea. These wildfires burned approximately 23,794 hectares of forestland over several days. We investigated the effects of birth weight associated with prenatal exposure to the by-products generated by wildfire disasters.
Methods
Birth weight data were obtained for 1999–2001 from the birth registration database of the Korean National Statistical Office, and matched with the zip-code, exposed/unexposed pregnancy week number for days of the wildfires. Then, generalized linear models were used to assess the associations between birth weight and exposure to wildfire after adjusting for fetal sex, gestational age, parity, maternal age, maternal education, paternal education, and exposed average atmospheric temperature.
Results
Compared with unexposed pregnancies before and after the wildfires, mean birth weight decreased by 41.4 g [95% confidence interval (CI): -72.4, -10.4] when exposed to wildfire during the first trimester, 23.2 g [95% CI: -59.3, 13.0] during the second trimester, and 27.0 g [95% CI: -63.8, 9.8] during the third trimester. In the adjusted model for infants exposed in utero during any trimester, the mean birth weight decreased by 32.5 g [95% CI: -53.2, -11.7].
Conclusions
We observed a 1% reduction in birth weight after wildfire exposure. Thus, exposure to by-products generated during a wildfire disaster during pregnancy may cause fetal growth retardation and developmental delays.


Epidemiol Health : Epidemiology and Health