Associations of green and blue space exposure in pregnancy with epigenetic gestational age acceleration

Irene Marques, Susana Santos, Giulietta S. Monasso, Serena Fossati, Martine Vrijheid, Mark Nieuwenhuijsen, Vincent W.V. Jaddoe, Janine F. Felix*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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Early life is seen as a particularly sensitive period for environmental exposures. Natural space exposure during pregnancy has been associated with offspring health. Epigenetic gestational age acceleration, a discrepancy between clinical and DNA methylation-based gestational age, may underlie these associations. In 1359 mother-newborn pairs from the population-based Generation R Study, we examined the associations of natural space exposure, defined as surrounding greenness, distance to major green and blue (water) space, and size of the blue space during pregnancy with offspring epigenetic gestational age acceleration. Natural space exposure was based on participants’ geocoded addresses, and epigenetic gestational age acceleration was calculated from cord blood DNA methylation using Bohlin’s and Knight’s epigenetic clocks. Sensitivity analyses were conducted in a subgroup of newborns with optimal pregnancy dating, based on last menstrual period. Surrounding greenness, measured in normalized difference vegetation index values, was intermediate (median 0.4, IQR 0.2), and 84% and 56% of the participants had a major green or blue space near their home address, respectively. We did not observe associations of natural space availability during pregnancy with offspring epigenetic gestational age acceleration. This could imply that epigenetic gestational age acceleration in cord blood does not underlie the effects of residential natural space availability in pregnancy on offspring health. Future studies could investigate whether residential natural space availability during pregnancy is associated with offspring differential DNA methylation at other CpGs than those included in the epigenetic gestational clocks.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2165321
Issue number1
Early online date11 Jan 2023
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The general design of the Generation R Study is made possible by financial support from the Erasmus MC, University Medical Centre Rotterdam, Erasmus University Rotterdam, the Netherlands Organization for Health Research and Development (ZonMw), the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO), the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport, and the Ministry of Youth and Families. The EWAS data was funded by a grant to VWVJ from the Netherlands Genomics Initiative (NGI)/Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) Netherlands Consortium for Healthy Aging (NCHA; project number 050-060-810), by funds from the Genetic Laboratory of the Department of Internal Medicine, Erasmus MC, University Medical Centre Rotterdam (R01HD068437). VWVJ received funding from the European Research Council (ERC-2014-CoG-648916). The project was supported by funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under grant agreements No 733206 (LifeCycle), 874739 (LongITools) and 874583 (ATHLETE), and from the European Joint Programming Initiative ‘A Healthy Diet for a Healthy Life’ (JPI HDHL, NutriPROGRAM project, ZonMw the Netherlands no. 529051022 and PREcisE project ZonMw the Netherlands no. 529051023). The Generation R Study is conducted by the Erasmus Medical Center in close collaboration with the School of Law and Faculty of Social Sciences of the Erasmus University Rotterdam, the Municipal Health Service Rotterdam area, Rotterdam, the Rotterdam Homecare Foundation, Rotterdam, and the Stichting Trombosedienst & Artsenlaboratorium Rijnmond (STAR-MDC), Rotterdam. We gratefully acknowledge the contribution of children and parents, general practitioners, hospitals, midwives, and pharmacies in Rotterdam. The generation and management of the Illumina 450K methylation array data (EWAS data) for the Generation R Study was executed by the Human Genotyping Facility of the Genetic Laboratory of the Department of Internal Medicine, Erasmus MC, and the Netherlands. We thank Mr Michael Verbiest, Ms Mila Jhamai, Ms Sarah Higgins, Mr Marijn Verkerk, and Dr Lisette Stolk for their help in creating the EWAS database. We thank Dr Alexander Teumer for his work on the quality control and normalization scripts.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


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