BACKGROUND: Poorly ventilated combustion stoves and pollutants emitted from combustion stoves increase the risk of acute lower respiratory illnesses (ALRI) in children living in developing countries but few studies have examined these issues in developed countries. Our objective is to investigate behaviors related to gas stove use, namely using them for heat and without ventilation, on the odds of pneumonia and cough in U.S. children.
METHODS: The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (1988-1994) was used to identify children < 5 years who lived in homes with a gas stove and whose parents provided information on their behaviors when operating their gas stoves and data on pneumonia (N = 3,289) and cough (N = 3,127). Multivariate logistic regression models were used to examine the association between each respiratory outcome and using a gas stove for heat or without ventilation, as well as, the joint effect of both behaviors.
RESULTS: The adjusted odds of parental-reported pneumonia (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] = 2.08, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.08, 4.03) and cough (aOR = 1.66, 95% CI: 1.14, 2.43) were higher among children who lived in homes where gas stoves were used for heat compared to those who lived in homes where gas stoves were only used for cooking. The odds of pneumonia (aOR = 1.76, 95% CI: 1.04, 2.98), but not cough (aOR = 1.23, 95% CI: 0.87, 1.75), was higher among those children whose parents did not report using ventilation when operating gas stoves compared to those who did use ventilation. When considering the joint association of both stove operating conditions, only children whose parents reported using gas stoves for heat without ventilation had significantly higher odds of pneumonia (aOR = 3.06, 95% CI: 1.32, 7.09) and coughing (aOR = 2.07, 95% CI: 1.29, 3.30) after adjusting for other risk factors.
CONCLUSIONS: Using gas stoves for heat without ventilation was associated with higher odds of pneumonia and cough among U.S. children less than five years old who live in homes with a gas stove. More research is needed to determine if emissions from gas stoves ventilation infrastructure, or modifiable behaviors contribute to respiratory infections in children.