Study published: Association between polluting cooking fuels and congenital birth defects


In a study recently published in the Archives of Public Health, researchers investigate the association between different types of household fuels and congenital birth defects in Nepal. The study reveals that the use of polluting cooking fuels is associated with an increased risk of congenital birth defects.

Person cooking.
There are various factors that can elevate the risk of birth defects, subsequently increasing the chances of infant and childhood mortality as well as disabilities. Previous research has indicated that the risk of all types of congenital birth defects rises when households use polluting cooking fuels like plant residue or firewood, as opposed to households utilising gas. The aim of this study was to examine the association between the use of various types of household cooking fuels and congenital birth defects in Nepal, while also exploring whether kitchen ventilation during cooking moderates this potential association.

Between 2017 and 2018, the study recruited women from 12 different hospitals in Nepal. A total of 66,713 pairs of women and newborns were included. These participants were tracked from admission to discharge, with information collected from medical records, maternity registers, and interviews with the women regarding their socioeconomic status, living conditions, fuel usage for cooking, and kitchen ventilation. The data was analysed using bivariate analysis.

Among the study participants, 40% used clean fuels such as electricity and gas for cooking, while 60% used polluting fuels like kerosene or firewood. Only about 10% had access to kitchen ventilation. The researchers found a strong association between the use of polluting fuels and an increased likelihood of having a child with congenital birth defects among women who did not use kitchen ventilation. However, this association lost its significance when examining women who used ventilation during cooking.

Read the article titled Association between usage of household cooking fuel and congenital birth defects-18 months multi-centric cohort study in Nepal'. It was written by Ashish KC, Sanni Halme, Rejina Gurung, Omkar Basnet, Erik Olsson, and Ebba Malmqvist.

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Last modified: 2023-03-24