Background: While prior studies have suggested an association between green spaces and infant neurodevelopment, the causal effect of green space exposure during pregnancy has not been fully investigated. This study aimed to identify with causal inference the effect of exposure to residential greenness during pregnancy on infants' mental-psychomotor development and the role of maternal education in modifying this association. Methods: We prospectively collected data of pregnant women and their infants from Mothers and Children Environmental Health cohort study. Based on residential addresses, we compiled information on the percent of green space using different buffer distances (100 m, 300 m, and 500 m) and air pollution (PM2.5). Infant neurodevelopment was measured at 6 months of age using the Korean Bayley Scales of Infant Development II Mental Developmental Index (MDI) and Psychomotor Developmental Index (PDI). Generalized propensity scores (GPSs) were estimated from machine-learning (ML) algorithms. We deduced causal inference through GPS adjustment and weighting approaches. Further analyses confirmed whether the association was altered by maternal academic background. Results: A total of 845 mother–infant pairs from the cohort study were included. We found that exposure to green spaces was robustly associated with infants' mental development. For example, an increase in % green space within 300 m increased the MDI by 14.32 (95 % confidence interval [CI], 3.44–25.2) in the weighting approach. Additionally, the association was even more noticeable for mothers with college degrees or above: an increase in % green space within 300 m increased the MDI by 23.69 (95 % CI, 8.53–38.85) and the PDI by 22.45 (95 % CI, 2.58–42.33) in the weighting approach. This association did not appear in mothers without college degrees. Conclusion: Exposure to green spaces during pregnancy showed a beneficial relationship with infant mental development. Maternal academic background could modify the impact of green space exposure on infant neurodevelopment.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
- Causal inference
- Generalized propensity score
- Green space
- Prenatal exposure