Background: Gas cooking is a main source of indoor air pollutants, including nitrogen dioxide and particles. Because concerns are emerging for neurodevelopmental effects of air pollutants, we examined the relationship between indoor gas cooking during pregnancy and infant neurodevelopment.
Methods: Pregnant mothers were recruited between 2004 and 2008 to a prospective birth cohort study (INfancia y Medio Ambiente) in Spain during the first trimester of pregnancy. Third-trimester questionnaires collected information about the use of gas appliances at home. At age 11 to 22 months, children were assessed for mental development using the Bayley Scales of Infant Development. Linear regression models examined the association of gas cooking and standardized mental development scores (n = 1887 mother-child pairs).
Results: Gas cookers were present in 44% of homes. Gas cooking was related to a small decrease in the mental development score compared with use of other cookers (-2.5 points [95% confidence interval = -4.0 to -0.9]) independent of social class, maternal education, and other measured potential confounders. This decrease was strongest in children tested after the age of 14 months (-3.1 points [-5.1 to -1.1]) and when gas cooking was combined with less frequent use of an extractor fan. The negative association with gas cooking was relatively consistent across strata defined by social class, education, and other covariates.
Conclusions: This study suggests a small adverse effect of indoor air pollution from gas cookers on the mental development of young children.