Wood-burning stoves and lower respiratory illnesses in Navajo children

Pediatr Infect Dis J. 1996 Oct;15(10):859-65. doi: 10.1097/00006454-199610000-00006.


Background: Acute lower respiratory illnesses (ALRI) have been associated with exposure to domestic smoke. To examine further this association, a case-control study was conducted among Navajo children seen at the Public Health Service Indian Hospital at Fort Defiance, AZ.

Methods: Cases, children hospitalized with an ALRI (n = 45), were ascertained from the inpatient logs during October, 1992, through March, 1993. Controls, children who had a health record at the same hospital and had never been hospitalized for ALRI, were matched 1:1 to cases on date of birth and gender. Home interviews of parents of subjects during March and April, 1993, elicited information on heating and cooking fuels and other household characteristics. Indoor air samples were collected for determination of time-weighted average concentrations of respirable particles (i.e. < 10 microns in diameter).

Results: Age of cases at the time of admission ranged from 1 to 24 months (median, 7 months); 60% of the cases were male. Matched pair analysis revealed an increased risk of ALRI for children living in households that cooked with any wood (odds ratio (OR), 5.0; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.6 to 42.8), had indoor air concentrations of respirable particles > or = 65 micrograms/m3 (i.e. 90th percentile) (OR 7.0, 95% CI 0.9 to 56.9), and where the primary caretaker was other than the mother (OR 9, 95% CI 1.1 to 71.4). Individual adjustment for potential confounders resulted in minor change (i.e. < 20%) in these results. Indoor air concentration of respirable particles was positively correlated with cooking and heating with wood (P < 0.02) but not with other sources of combustion emissions.

Conclusions: Cooking with wood-burning stoves was associated with higher indoor air concentrations of respirable particles and with an increased risk of ALRI in Navajo children.

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Air Pollution, Indoor* / adverse effects
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Coal
  • Female
  • Household Articles*
  • Humans
  • Indians, North American*
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Petroleum
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / epidemiology
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / etiology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoke / adverse effects*
  • Wood


  • Coal
  • Petroleum
  • Smoke