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Global Health
July 18, 2012

Smoke and Developing Brains

JAMA. 2012;308(3):227. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.8389

For children in developing countries, exposure to open-fire cooking (which emits harmful substances) rather than to cooking on kerosene stoves is associated with lower cognitive performance and less structured play, report researchers from California (Munroe RL and Gauvain M. Int J Environ Health Res. 2012;22[2]:156-164.)

The researchers reevaluated field data collected in the late 1970s that included about 200 children, ages 3 to 9 years, in Belize, Kenya, Nepal, and American Samoa. The communities in Kenya and Nepal used indoor open-fire cooking with wood, straw, or dung; those in American Samoa used kerosene stoves; and those in Belize used either wood or kerosene or both. The team looked at data from several cognitive tests and activities they had carried out with the children.