Cooking outdoors or with cleaner fuels does not increase malarial risk in children. Photo: © Photoongraphy / Shutterstock.com

Smoke, malaria and children under five

The smoke from biomass burning causes severe health risks, including 450,000 premature deaths in children under five years of age. Cleaner fuels, electrification of cooking or changes to cooking practices could reduce exposure to harmful smoke. Malaria is also a threat to children and leads to around 270,000 premature deaths in children under five. Smoke could also potentially act as a mosquito repellent and possibly reduce malaria infections. There has been little evidence to support this theoretical risk, but large and well-designed studies have been needed. A new cross-sectional study of 17 sub-Saharan African countries was used to test the hypothesis by examining data on 85,000 children tested for malaria in malaria-endemic areas and data on cooking fuel type and habits. The authors found that that cooking outdoors or with cleaner fuels did not increase malarial risk in children under 5 years.

Source: Malar J 21, 133 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12936-022-04152-3

 

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