Simple Solution to Reducing Pneumonia Worldwide

Limiting wood smoke inhalation lessens severe pneumonia risk in children

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Cooking over a wood fire is a common practice around the world. A new study shows that by reducing wood smoke inhalation, severe pneumonia was reduced in children.

According to a new study, close to three billion people use open fires or wood stoves to cook and heat their homes. By reducing smoke inhalation in young infants, severe pneumonia was reduced by 33 percent.

"Reducing air pollutants at home to breath better."

Pneumonia is the leading cause of death in children aged five years or younger. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 1.4 million children die from pneumonia around the world every year. Smoke from burning wood reduces the lung's defenses against bacterial infections such as pneumonia.

The study conducted by the University of Liverpool estimated that daily exposure to open fires was similar to smoking three to five cigarettes daily. The study was conducted in rural communities in Guatemala.

Families with pregnant women or infants were randomly given a wood stove with a chimney while other families continued to cook with open fires.

By filtering the smoke outside, cases of severe pneumonia were 33 percent less than families using wood fires. There was a minor decrease in all pneumonia cases for families who had a chimney but it was not a significant change.

The study shows that more education is needed worldwide about the impact of smoke inhalation and pneumonia. Reducing the amount of families using wood fires to cook or heat homes can lead to a reduction in severe pneumonia in children and future respiratory problems in adults.

More studies are needed to find ways to educate people and get cleaner stoves into homes.

This study was published in the November edition of The Lancet.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
November 17, 2011
Last Updated:
November 20, 2011