Effect of low-cost kitchen with improved cookstove on birthweight of neonates in Shahjadpur, Bangladesh: a cluster-randomised controlled trial

Anisuddin Ahmed, Ahmed Ehsanur Rahman, Saifuddin Ahmed, Fariya Rahman, Hasan Mahmud Sujan, Faisal Ahmmed, Aniqa Tasnim Hossain, Abu Sayeed, Shahed Hossain, Nafisa Lira Huq, Mohammad Abdul Quaiyum, Laura Reichenbach, Shams El Arifeen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Smoke from biomass fuels used for cooking in traditional cookstoves contains a variety of health-damaging pollutants. Inhalation of these pollutants by pregnant women has been linked to abnormal foetal development and adverse pregnancy outcomes, including low birthweight (LBW). There is a dearth of data on environmental interventions that have the potential to reduce exposure to biomass fuel during pregnancy and improve birth outcomes. International Centre for Diarrheal Disease Research, Bangladesh (icddr,b) therefore, designed a low-cost kitchen with an improved cookstove and examined the impact of this intervention on the birthweight of neonates. Methods: icddr,b conducted a cluster-randomised controlled trial of a ‘low-cost kitchen with improved cookstove’ intervention among 1,267 pregnant women who used traditional cookstoves in a rural sub-district of Bangladesh. All participants were enrolled during the first trimester of pregnancy among 104 randomly selected clusters after obtaining informed consent. The model kitchens were installed in 628 participants' households of the intervention group, and 639 participants continued to use traditional cookstoves as the control group. The primary outcome was the proportion of LBW neonates between the intervention and control groups. The study also examined if the intervention would reduce CO exposure, measured by the differences in maternal blood carbon monoxide saturation (SpCO) levels and prevalence of LBW in neonates. We performed a generalized structural equation model for jointly assessing the simultaneous relationships of biomass fuel exposure to LBW of neonates and the relationships of LBW of neonates to maternal blood SpCO level. This trial was registered with ClinicalTrials.gov (NCT02923882). Findings: We found that in the intervention group using ‘low-cost kitchen with improved cookstove’, the risk of LBW reduced by 37% (adjusted risk ratio: 0.63, 95% CI [0.45, 0.89]). Between the second and third trimester, the mean maternal blood SpCO level was significantly reduced from 10.4% to 8.9% (p-value <0.01) in the intervention group but remained unchanged in the control group (11.6% and 11.5%). Of the total effects of the intervention on the risk of LBW, 48.3% was mediated through maternal blood SpCO level. Interpretation: The risk of LBW among rural neonates was reduced in the intervention group using ‘low-cost kitchen with improved cookstove’, which may be attributed to the reduction in maternal blood SpCO level. Additional research is needed to identify other mechanisms through which biomass fuel exposure might lead to adverse pregnancy outcomes. Funding: Grand Challenges Canada: Rising Stars in Global Health Programme.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100342
JournalThe Lancet Regional Health - Southeast Asia
StatePublished - Jun 2024


  • Carbon monoxide
  • Cluster randomised controlled trial
  • Improved cookstove
  • Low birthweight
  • Low-cost kitchen
  • SpCO

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Infectious Diseases


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