Characteristics of Humidifier Use in Korean Pregnant Women: The Mothers and Children's Environmental Health (MOCEH) Study

Environ Health Toxicol. 2012;27:e2012003. doi: 10.5620/eht.2012.27.e2012003. Epub 2012 Jan 26.


Objectives: The current use of humidifier detergent and its harmful impact on humans has arisen as a societal environmental health issue. Therefore, in this study we aimed to explore the relationship between demo-socio characteristics and humidifier use, as well as the monthly usage changes in pregnant women; thus, we report the actual status of humidifier usage of Korea's pregnant population.

Methods: From a birth cohort of a Mothers and Children's Environmental Health (MOCEH) study, 1,144 pregnant women who responded through questionnaires including demo-socio characteristics, obstetric status and household environment including whether they use humidifier and frequency of use were included in this study. Statistical analyses were performed to explore the relationship between maternal characteristics and the relevance of the use of humidifiers was performed using a chi-square test, a t-test and univariate logistic regression analysis. The monthly usage rate was demonstrated in the graph.

Results: The humidifier usage rate in pregnant women was 28.2%. The average frequency of humidifier usage was 4.6 days per week, 7.3 hours per day. The usage rate was higher in the multipara group and the above the age of 34 age group than in the primipara and below the age of 34 groups. Seoul showed a higher usage rate than Cheonan and Ulsan and as the education level and income increased, the usage rate of humidifiers among pregnant women also increased. In the monthly trend of usage rate, the winter season showed the highest usage rate of over 45% and the lowest in late summer and beginning of fall with a value of 12% or less.

Conclusions: During pregnancy, the mother's body is especially vulnerable to hazardous environmental exposure that not only affects the pregnant woman but also the fetus. Further research is still needed to elucidate the route and effect of environmental risk factors. Therefore, based on precautionary and preventive principles, special interest and caution in harmful environments are strongly needed not only at an individual level but also at a national level.

Keywords: Cohort study; Humidifier; Pregnant woman.