Clean cook­stoves fail to curb pneu­mo­nia in kids: Study

Kuwait Times - - HEALTH & SCIENCE -

Dis­ap­pointed re­searchers re­ported yes­ter­day that a two-year trial in ru­ral subSa­ha­ran Africa showed clean-burn­ing in­door cook­stoves did not re­duce cases of pneu­mo­nia in young chil­dren, as hoped.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors and health ad­vo­cates had ex­pected that closed stoves rather than smoke-pro­duc­ing open fires would dra­mat­i­cally curb health prob­lems linked with house­hold air pol­lu­tion. The World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion (WHO) es­ti­mates that in­door air pol­lu­tion-no­tably soot and other fine par­ti­cles-kills more than four mil­lion peo­ple ev­ery year around the world, mostly in Africa.

Young chil­dren are thought to be es­pe­cially vul­ner­a­ble. In Malawi, pneu­mo­nia is the lead­ing cause of death among un­der five-year-olds. For the ex­per­i­ment, the fam­i­lies of more than 10,000 very young chil­dren in vil­lages across two dis­tricts in Malawi were di­vided into two groups. One con­tin­ued us­ing tra­di­tional, open­fire wood- or dung-burn­ing stoves for cook­ing and heating for the du­ra­tion of the two-year ex­per­i­ment. Fam­i­lies in the other group were given clean-burn­ing cook­stoves that also used biomass-or­ganic mat­ter de­rived from an­i­mals or plants. “There had been the as­sump­tion that the use of cleaner cook­stoves will bring about health ben­e­fits and save lives,” said lead in­ves­ti­ga­tor Kevin Mor­timer of the Liver­pool School of Trop­i­cal Medicine.

But the new stoves had “no ef­fect on the in­ci­dence of pneu­mo­nia” in the chil­dren, the re­searchers con­cluded. Pub­lished in The Lancet, the study did show that chil­dren liv­ing in the clean stove homes had 42 per­cent fewer burns than their coun­ter­parts in the other group. “The re­duc­tions in burn-re­lated in­juries is en­cour­ag­ing from a safety per­spec­tive,” Mor­timer said.

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