Objective: This study investigated the relationship between indoor air quality and the prevalence of respiratory symptoms in South Australian preschool children.
Methodology: Data were collected from 14,124 families with a child aged 4 years 3 months to 5 years of age. This sample represents 73% of the targeted State preschool population. At the time of a routine preschool health check, parents completed a questionnaire regarding: their child's respiratory health and place of residence (postcode), parental smoking, type of fuel used for cooking and heating and method used for home cooling.
Results: For preschool children residing in the greater Adelaide region, logistic regression analyses found that having a natural gas stove compared to an electric stove was significantly associated with increased prevalence rates for: (i) asthma (odds ratio [OR] 1.24); (ii) wheezing in the preceding 12 months (OR 1.16); excessive colds (OR 1.14); and hay fever (OR 1.13). The use of a liquid petroleum gas stove compared to an electric stove was not associated with any respiratory symptoms. The use of a flueless gas heater compared to other forms of heating was significantly associated with increased prevalence rates for dry cough (OR 1.26), ever having wheezed (OR 1.15) and wheezing in the preceding 12 months (OR 1.18). The use of a wood fire/heater compared to other forms of heating was significantly associated with a reduced prevalence rate for dry cough (OR 0.84) and ever having wheezed (OR 0.82). Parental smoking was significantly associated with increased prevalence rates for bronchitis (OR 1.21) and ever having wheezed (OR 1.24). The form of home cooling used was not associated with prevalence rates, after accounting for geographic location. Socio-economic status (postcode level) was not generally associated with prevalence rates.
Conclusions: These results suggest that respiratory symptom prevalence is related to the fuel used for cooking and heating and parental smoking. Prospective investigation regarding indoor air quality and respiratory symptoms is required.