Antenatal Exposure to UV‐B Radiation and Preeclampsia: A Retrospective Cohort Study

Claire E. Hastie, MacKay F. Daniel, Tom Clemens, Mark Cherrie, Lauren Megaw, Gordon C. S. Smith, Sarah J E Stock, Chris Dibben, Jill Pell

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Background Risk of preeclampsia varies by month of delivery. We tested whether this seasonal patterning may be mediated through maternal vitamin D concentration using antenatal exposure to UV‐B radiation as an instrumental variable. Methods and Results Scottish maternity records were linked to antenatal UV‐B exposure derived from satellites between 2000 and 2010. Logistic regression analyses were used to explore the association between UV‐B and preeclampsia, adjusting for the potential confounding effects of month of conception, child's sex, gestation, parity, and mean monthly temperature. Of the 522 896 eligible singleton deliveries, 8689 (1.66%) mothers developed preeclampsia. Total antenatal UV‐B exposure ranged from 43.18 to 101.11 kJ/m2 and was associated with reduced risk of preeclampsia with evidence of a dose‐response relationship (highest quintile of exposure: adjusted odds ratio, 0.57; 95% CI, 0.44–0.72; P<0.001). Associations were demonstrated for UV‐B exposure in all 3 trimesters. Conclusions The seasonal patterning of preeclampsia may be mediated through low maternal vitamin D concentration in winter resulting from low UV‐B radiation. Interventional studies are required to determine whether vitamin D supplements or UV‐B–emitting light boxes can reduce the seasonal patterning of preeclampsia.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere020246
JournalJournal of the American Heart Association
Issue number13
Early online date22 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jun 2021


  • ultraviolet light
  • environmental exposures
  • Pre-eclampsia
  • seasonal variations


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