Background: Nearly 40% of the world's population is exposed daily to household air pollution. The relative impact of prenatal and postnatal household air pollution exposure on early childhood pneumonia, a leading cause of mortality, is unknown.
Research question: Are prenatal or postnatal household air pollution, or both, associated with pneumonia risk in the first year of life?
Study design and methods: The Ghana Randomized Air Pollution and Health Study enrolled 1,414 nonsmoking, pregnant women before 24 weeks' gestation with prospective follow-up to the child's age of 1 year. We measured 72-h personal household air pollution exposures, indexed by carbon monoxide (CO), four times prenatally and three times postnatally. Weekly fieldworker surveillance identified ill-appearing children for physician pneumonia assessment. We used quasi-Poisson models to examine associations between prenatal and postnatal CO and physician-diagnosed pneumonia and severe pneumonia. Sex-specific effects were examined.
Results: Of the 1,306 live births, 1,141 infants were followed up with 55,605 child-weeks of fieldworker surveillance. The estimated risk for pneumonia and severe pneumonia in the first year of life increased by 10% (relative risk [RR], 1.10; 95% CI, 1.04-1.16) and 15% (RR, 1.15; 95% CI, 1.03-1.28), respectively, per 1-part per million (ppm) increase in average prenatal CO exposure and by 6% (RR, 1.06; 95% CI, 0.99-1.13) per 1-ppm increase in average postnatal CO exposure. Sex-stratified analyses suggest that in girls, higher prenatal CO exposure was associated with pneumonia risk, while no association was seen in boys.
Interpretation: Prenatal household air pollution exposure increased risk of pneumonia and severe pneumonia in the first year of life. Clean-burning interventions may be most effective when begun prenatally.
Trial registry: ClinicalTrials.gov; No.: NCT01335490; URL: www.clinicaltrials.gov.
Keywords: household air pollution; pneumonia; prenatal and postnatal exposures; sex-specific effects.
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