TitleImpact of biomass fuels on pregnancy outcomes in central East India
AuthorsWylie BJ, Coull BA, Hamer DH, Singh MP, Jack D, Yeboah-Antwi K, Sabin L, Singh N, MacLeod WB
PublicationEnviron Health.. 2014 Jan; 13(1).


Smoke from biomass burning has been linked to reduced birth weight; association with other birth outcomes is poorly understood. Our objective was to evaluate effects of exposure to biomass smoke on birth weight, preterm birth and stillbirth.


Information on household cooking fuel was available for secondary analysis from two cohorts of pregnant women enrolled at delivery in India (n = 1744). Birth weight was measured and the modified Ballard performed to assess gestational age. Linear and logistic regression models were used to explore associations between fuel and birth outcomes. Effect sizes were adjusted in multivariate models for socio-demographic characteristics using propensity score techniques and for medical/obstetric covariates.


Compared to women who use gas (n = 265), women cooking with wood (n = 1306) delivered infants that were on average 112 grams lighter (95% CI -170.1, -54.6) and more likely to be preterm (OR 3.11, 95% CI 2.12, 4.59). Stillbirths were also more common in the wood group (4% versus 0%, p < 0.001). In adjusted models, the association between wood use and birth weight was no longer significant (14 g reduction; 95% CI -93, 66); however, the increased odds for preterm birth persisted (aOR 2.29; 95% CI 1.24, 4.21). Wood fuel use did not increase the risk of delivering either a low birth weight or small for gestational age infant.


The association between wood fuel use and reduced birth weight was insignificant in multivariate models using propensity score techniques to account for socio-demographic differences. In contrast, we demonstrated a persistent adverse impact of wood fuel use on preterm delivery. If prematurity is confirmed as a consequence of antenatal exposure to household air pollution, perinatal morbidity and mortality from household air pollution may be higher than previously appreciated.