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Better Stove May Improve Women’s Respiratory Health

Last Updated: September 28, 2009.

In rural Mexican women, use of an improved wood-burning stove is associated with better respiratory function compared to a traditional open fire, according to a study in the Oct. 1 issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

MONDAY, Sept. 28 (HealthDay News) -- In rural Mexican women, use of an improved wood-burning stove is associated with better respiratory function compared to a traditional open fire, according to a study in the Oct. 1 issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Isabelle Romieu, M.D., from the National Institute of Public Health in Cuernavaca, Mexico, and colleagues compared lung function in 552 rural Mexican women randomly assigned to the Patsari stove (an improved biomass stove) or their traditional open fire.

Noting that adherence to the Patsari stove was only 50 percent, the researchers found that women using the stove had a significantly lower risk of respiratory symptoms (relative risks, 0.77 for cough and 0.29 for wheezing) after adjusting for possible confounding factors. Improvements were also noted for other respiratory symptoms, eye discomfort, headache, and back pain. After one year of follow-up, the Patsari stove was also associated with a smaller decline in lung function compared to the open fire.

"Now is a critical point in time to reduce indoor air pollution in the developing world as large-scale stove intervention programs are being implemented or considered around the world," writes the author of an accompanying editorial. "This timely article from Romieu and colleagues helps to highlight both the tremendous potential of these programs in the developing world to improve health and quality of life and the great need for continued research to help us understand how to best develop and implement these programs."

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