Environ Res. 2023 Sep 9:117107. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2023.117107. Online ahead of print.
Previous studies found inconsistent associations between ambient temperature during pregnancy and the risk of preeclampsia. If such associations are causal, they may impact the future burden of preeclampsia in the context of climate change. We used a historical cohort of 129,009 pregnancies (5074 preeclampsia cases) from southern Israel that was merged with temperature assessments from a hybrid satellite-based exposure model. Distributed-lag and cause-specific hazard models were employed to study time to all preeclampsia cases, followed by stratification according to early (≤34 weeks) and late (>34 weeks) onset disease and identify critical exposure periods. We found a positive association between temperature and preeclampsia during gestation, which was stronger in the 3rd trimester. For example, during week 33, compared to the reference temperature of 22.4 °C, the cause-specific hazard ratio (HRCS) of preeclampsia was 1.01 (95% confidence interval (CI): 1.01-1.02) when exposed to 30 °C, 1.05 (95%CI: 1.03-1.08) at 35 °C, and 1.07 (95%CI: 1.04-1.10) at 37 °C. The associations existed with both early- and late-onset preeclampsia; however, the associations with the early-onset disease were somewhat stronger, limited to the first weeks of pregnancy and the third trimester, and with larger confidence intervals. The HRCS for early preeclampsia onset, when exposed to 37 °C compared to 22.4 °C during week 33, was 1.12 (95%CI: 0.96-1.30), and for late-onset preeclampsia, the HRCS was 1.09 (95%CI: 1.05-1.13). To conclude, exposure to high temperatures at the beginning and, particularly, the end of gestation is associated with an increased risk of preeclampsia in southern Israel.