The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA

The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA

5095.0: Wednesday, November 19, 2003 - 1:24 PM

Abstract #69136

Maternal exposure to biomass smoke and reduced birth weight in Zimbabwe

Vinod Mishra, PhD, MPH1, Xiaolei Dai, MPH1, Kirk R. Smith, PhD, MPH2, and Lasten Mika3. (1) Population and Health Studies, East-West Center, 1601 East-West Road, Honolulu, HI 96848, 808-944-7452,, (2) School of Public Health, Environmental Health Sciences, University of California, Berkeley, 140 Warren Hall, Berkeley, CA 94720, (3) SIRDC, Energy Technology, P.O. Box 6640, Harare, Zimbabwe

Reliance on biomass for cooking and heating exposes many women in developing countries to high levels of many health-damaging air pollutants indoors. Numerous studies have linked exposure to tobacco smoke (both active smoking by mother and environmental tobacco smoke) and ambient air pollution to intra uterine growth retardation and reduced birth weight. Although smoke from biomass combustion releases some of the same pollutants found in tobacco smoke and in ambient air, a first report of an association between biofuel use and reduced birth weight was reported only last year in rural Guatemala. The primary mechanisms are believed to be through exposure to CO and particulates in biomass smoke. To examine this relationship further, we designed a similar study based on data from the 1999 Zimbabwe Demographic and Health Survey. We examined the association between household use of biomass fuels (wood, dung, or straw) for cooking and birth weight of children born during the five years preceding the survey (n=3,559). Multivariate generalized linear models were estimated to assess the effects of household use of biomass cooking fuels on birth weight, after controlling for child?s birth order, maternal education, household living standard, and other potentially confounding factors. Results indicate that babies born to mothers cooking with wood, dung, or straw were 133 grams lighter (95% CI: -230, -38), on average, compared with babies born to mothers using LPG, natural gas, or electricity. The relationship needs to be further investigated using more direct measures of smoke exposure and accounting for environmental tobacco smoke.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Air Pollutants, Low Birthweight

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Organization/institution whose products or services will be discussed: East-West Center, Honolulu, HI
I have a significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.
Relationship: employment

Environmental Toxics - Indoor Air Quality in the Home and Workplace

The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA