UCSF Sustainability Stories


Sophia Labeko


Next Generation of Environmental Health Leaders - Anna Claire Fernández



This story is a continuation of the Extracurricular: Next Generation of Environmental Health Leaders story.

Anna Claire Fernández, a second-year medical student at the UC Berkeley and UCSF joint Medical Program. For her internship, she worked with Amy Padula, PhD, MSc, in the UCSF Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences to investigate the relationship between wildfire smoke exposure and adverse birth outcomes, like weight.

To conduct their study, the team looked at 6,000 San Francisco births between 2018 and 2019 and cross referenced it with peak ambient PM2.5 pollutants, which are tiny particles present in the air during poor air quality. In addition, the team sorted pregnancies by varying degrees of structural privilege using variables like educational level, maternal race, and health insurance type in order to see how these social factors affected birth outcomes.

Although this research needs more data to show accurate results, preliminary results show that exposure to peak PM2.5 pollutants during the second trimester positively correlated to male babies born in the 90th percentile for weight, or large for their gestational age.

To get accurate results, the team hopes to do a larger study in the future. This research will help inform environmental policy aimed at improving maternal health.

Watch Fernández’s full presentation on YouTube.