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Incense burning is a popular practice in Asian and Arabic countries. Previous studies show that incense burning was associated with increased risks of adverse outcomes among non-pregnant population. However, very few studies explored its health effects among pregnant women, who are more susceptible to environmental stressor. We aimed to examine the association between incense burning at home and hypertensive disorders as well as blood pressure levels during pregnancy, using data from 10,563 pregnant women recruited in Born in Guangzhou Cohort Study, China between January 2013 and December 2015. Information on frequency and duration of exposure to incense burning were collected at early and late pregnancy using questionnaire. Data on outcome variables, including hypertensive disorders diagnosis and blood pressure levels at the final antenatal visit before delivery, were extracted from medical records. We used Poisson regression model and general linear model to examine the associations between incense exposure and the outcomes. We found incense use at early pregnancy was not significantly associated with outcomes. Pregnant women who frequently smelled the incense burning at late pregnancy was associated with higher risk of hypertensive disorders (relative risk, 1.84; 95% confidence interval, 1.14-2.98) and higher levels of blood pressure (1.6mmHg increase of systolic blood pressure; 95% confidence interval, 0.4-2.8mmHg) before delivery, compared to those did not burn incense. These associations tended to more evident among women without active and passive smoking. We did not observe significant dose-response relationship between exposure duration and the risk of hypertensive disorders. We firstly reported exposure to incense burning was associated with the risk of hypertensive disorders and blood pressure levels during pregnancy. Given hypertensive disorders in pregnancy are well-established risk factors for a variety of adverse outcomes and the incense burning is a modifiable factor, our finding may have important public health significance.

Original publication




Journal article


Sci Total Environ

Publication Date





1421 - 1427


Birth cohort, Blood pressure, China, Gestational hypertension, Incense burning, Pregnancy, Adult, Air Pollution, Indoor, Blood Pressure, China, Female, Humans, Hypertension, Maternal Exposure, Pregnancy, Smoke, Young Adult