Maternal Exposure to Biomass Smoke and Reduced Birth Weight in Zimbabwe

by Vinod Mishra, Xiaolei Dai, Kirk R. Smith, and Lasten Mika

East-West Center Working Papers, Population and Health Series, No. 114

Publisher: Honolulu: East-West Center
Publication Date: January 2004
Binding: paper
Pages: 21
Free Download: PDF


Household use of high pollution cooking fuels may cause reduced birth weight. This paper analyses 3,559 childbirths in the five years preceding the 1999 Zimbabwe Demographic and Health Survey. Birth weights, recorded by trained professionals at local health clinics, were derived from health cards at home or from mother's recall. Multiple regression method was used to estimate the effect of household use of biomass cooking fuels (wood, dung, or straw) on birth weight, after controlling for child's sex and birth order, mother's education and nutritional status, pregnancy care, household living standard, and other potentially confounding factors. Babies born to mothers cooking with wood, dung, or straw were lighter, on average, compared with babies born to mothers using LPG, natural gas, or electricity. The relationship needs to be further investigated using more direct measures of smoke exposure and birth weight and accounting for environmental tobacco smoke.