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Wood-burning stoves and lower respiratory illnesses in Navajo children

ROBIN, LAURA F. DO; LEES, PETER S. J. PHD; WINGET, MARCY PHD; STEINHOFF, MARK MD; MOULTON, LAWRENCE H. PHD; SANTOSHAM, MATHURAM MD; CORREA, ADOLFO MD

The Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal: October 1996 - Volume 15 - Issue 10 - p 859-865
Original Studies
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Background Acute lower respiratory illnesses (ALRI) have been associated with exposure to domestic smoke. To examine further this association, a case-control study was conducted among Navajo children seen at the Public Health Service Indian Hospital at Fort Defiance, AZ.

Methods Cases, children hospitalized with an ALRI (n = 45), were ascertained from the inpatient logs during October, 1992, through March, 1993. Controls, children who had a health record at the same hospital and had never been hospitalized for ALRI, were matched 1:1 to cases on date of birth and gender. Home interviews of parents of subjects during March and April, 1993, elicited information on heating and cooking fuels and other household characteristics. Indoor air samples were collected for determination of time-weighted average concentrations of respirable particles (i.e. <10 μm in diameter).

Results Age of cases at the time of admission ranged from 1 to 24 months (median, 7 months); 60% of the cases were male. Matched pair analysis revealed an increased risk of ALRI for children living in households that cooked with any wood (odds ratio (OR), 5.0; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.6 to 42.8), had indoor air concentrations of respirable particles ≥65 μg/m3 (i.e. 90th percentile) (OR 7.0, 95% CI 0.9 to 56.9), and where the primary caretaker was other than the mother (OR 9, 95% CI 1.1 to 71.4). Individual adjustment for potential confounders resulted in minor change (i.e. <20%) in these results. Indoor air concentration of respirable particles was positively correlated with cooking and heating with wood (P < 0.02) but not with other sources of combustion emissions.

Conclusions Cooking with wood-burning stoves was associated with higher indoor air concentrations of respirable particles and with an increased risk of ALRI in Navajo children.

From the Departments of International Health (LFR, MS, LHM, MS), Environmental Health Sciences (PSJL) and Epidemiology (MW, AC), The Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health, Baltimore, MD.

Accepted for publication June 5, 1996.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the Indian Health Service.

Address for reprints: Adolfo Correa, M.D., The Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health, Department of Epidemiology, 615 North Wolfe St., Suite 6019, Baltimore, MD 21205. Fax 410-955-0863; E-mail acorrea@phnet.sph.jhu.edu.

© Williams & Wilkins 1996. All Rights Reserved.