Effectiveness of interventions to reduce household air pollution from solid biomass fuels and improve maternal and child health outcomes in low and middle income countries: a systematic review protocol

Katherine Woolley, Emma Dickinson-Craig, Suzanne Bartington, Tosin Oludotun, Bruce Kirenga, Shelton Mariga, Telesphore Kabera, April Coombe, Francis Pope, Ajit Singh, William Avis, Rosie Day, David Warburton, Semira Manaseki-Holland, David Moore, G Neil Thomas

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2 Citations (Scopus)
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A variety of public health interventions have been undertaken in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) to prevent morbidity and mortality associated with household air pollution (HAP) due to cooking, heating and lighting with solid biomass fuels. Pregnant women and children under five are particularly vulnerable to the effects of HAP, due to biological susceptibility and typically higher exposure levels. However, the relative health benefits of interventions to reduce HAP exposure among these groups remain unclear. This systematic review aims to assess, among pregnant women, infants and children (under 5 years) in LMIC settings, the effectiveness of interventions which aim to reduce household air pollutant emissions due to household solid biomass fuel combustion, compared to usual cooking practices, in terms of health outcomes associated with HAP exposure.

This protocol follows standard systematic review processes and abides by the PRISMA-P reporting guidelines. Searches will be undertaken in MEDLINE, EMBASE, CENTRAL, WHO International Clinical Trials Registry Platform (ICTRP), The Global Index Medicus (GIM), ClinicalTrials.gov and Greenfile, combining terms for pregnant women and children with interventions or policy approaches to reduce HAP from biomass fuels or HAP terms and LMIC countries. Included studies will be those reporting (i) pregnant women and children under 5 years; (ii) fuel transition, structural, educational or policy interventions; and (iii) health events associated with HAP exposure which occur among pregnant women or among children within the perinatal period, infancy and up to 5 years of age. A narrative synthesis will be undertaken for each population-intervention-outcome triad stratified by study design. Clinical and methodological homogeneity within each triad will be used to determine the feasibility for undertaking meta-analyses to give a summary estimate of the effect for each outcome.

This systematic review will identify the effectiveness of existing HAP intervention measures in LMIC contexts, with discussion on the context of implementation and adoption, and summarise current literature of relevance to maternal and child health. This assessment reflects the need for HAP interventions which achieve measurable health benefits, which would need to be supported by policies that are socially and economically acceptable in LMIC settings worldwide.

Systematic review registration
PROSPERO CRD42020164998
Original languageEnglish
Article number33
JournalBMC Systematic Reviews
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jan 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
KEW and EDC initiated the aims and scope of the review under the supervision of SEB, GNT and SMH. Search strategy support was provided by AC. Methodological, support, advice and review were given by DJM. The manuscript was written by KEW and edited by EDC, DJM, GNT, SEB, FDP, SMH, RD, TO, BK, STM, TK, AS, WRA and DW. All authors have read and approved the manuscript for publication. GNT will be the guarantor for this review.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).


  • Biomass
  • Child health
  • Environmental health
  • Indoor air pollution
  • Infant health
  • Interventions
  • Low- and middle-income countries
  • Maternal health
  • Pregnancy outcomes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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