Light Pollution, Sleep Deprivation, and Infant Health at Birth,

Susan L. Averett, Lafayette College
Laura M. Argys , University of Colorado Denver
Muzhe Yang, Lehigh University

Using a measure of skyglow, an aspect of light pollution, we examine its impact on birth outcomes. We find increased nighttime brightness is associated with an increase in preterm births by 12.8 percent (approximately 45,000 preterm births annually). Using Walker’s Law in physics as a scientifically-based instrumental variable, we address potential endogeneity of skyglow. Increased skyglow is associated with less sleep, indicating a mechanism linking sleep deprivation to light-pollution-induced circadian disruption. This result, combined with the literature on the effects of sleep disorders, completes the causal chain underlying our findings. Our study has important implications regarding installation of LED streetlights.

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 Presented in Session 107. Causes of Adverse Birth Outcomes