Health effects of chronic noise exposure in pregnancy and childhood: A systematic review initiated by ENRIECO

Cynthia Hohmann*, Linus Grabenhenrich, Yvonne de Kluizenaar, Christina Tischer, Joachim Heinrich, Chih-Mei Chen, Carel Thijs, Mark Nieuwenhuijsen, Thomas Keil

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Chronic noise is an environmental pollutant and well-known to cause annoyance and sleep disturbance. Its association with clinical and subclinical adverse health effects has been discussed. Objectives: This systematic review aimed to examine associations between chronic noise exposure during pregnancy or childhood and health outcomes in early and late childhood. Methods: Following a systematic electronic literature search (MEDLINE, EMBASE), an additional hand search and a critical evaluation of potential articles by 2 independent reviewers, 29 studies were included: 12 on pregnancy/birth outcomes with samples ranging from 115 to 22,761 and 17 on cardiovascular and immune-mediated health outcomes in childhood with samples ranging from 43 to 1542. Evidence levels (3 to 2++) were rated according to the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network. Results: Chronic noise exposure during pregnancy was not associated with birth weight, preterm birth, congenital anomalies, perinatal and neonatal death based on 6 cohort, 4 case-control, and 2 cross-sectional studies (highest evidence level 2+). There was some evidence supporting an association of chronic noise exposure with increased systolic blood pressure and stress hormone levels in urine and saliva in children evaluating 2 cohort and 15 cross-sectional studies (highest evidence level 2-). Conclusions: There seemed to be no associations between chronic noise and pregnancy outcomes based on studies with evidence levels up to 2+. Associations between chronic noise and health in children were based mainly on cross-sectional studies. However, the studies included in this comprehensive systematic review showed a high variation in study design, outcome, exposure and confounder assessments.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-229
JournalInternational Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013


  • Chronic noise
  • Noise exposure
  • Pregnancy
  • Birth outcomes
  • Paediatric outcomes
  • Children
  • Adolescents


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