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Open Access Research article

Use of traditional cooking fuels and the risk of young adult cataract in rural Bangladesh: a hospital-based case-control study

Joydhan Tanchangya1* and Alan F Geater2

Author Affiliations

1 Impact "Jibon Tari" Floating Hospital, Impact Foundation Bangladesh, 7th Floor, House 23, Road 113/A, Gulshan-2, Dhaka-1212, Bangladesh

2 Epidemiology Unit, Faculty of Medicine, Prince of Songkla University, Hat Yai, Songkhla, 90112, Thailand

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BMC Ophthalmology 2011, 11:16  doi:10.1186/1471-2415-11-16

Published: 16 June 2011

Abstract

Background

This study aimed to investigate the independent relationship between the use of various traditional biomass cooking fuels and the occurrence of cataract in young adults in rural Bangladesh.

Methods

A hospital-based age- and sex-matched case-control study incorporating two control groups was conducted. Cases were cataract patients aged 18 and 49 years diagnosed on the basis of any opacity of the crystalline lens or its capsule and visual acuity poorer than 6/18 on the Log Mar Visual Acuity Chart in either eye, or who had a pseudophakic lens as a result of cataract surgery within the previous 5 years. Non-eye-disease (NE) controls were selected from patients from ENT or Orthopaedics departments and non-cataract eye-disease (NC) controls from the Ophthalmology department. Data pertaining to history of exposure to various cooking fuels and to established risk factors for cataract were obtained by face-to-face interview and analyzed using conditional logistic regression.

Results

Clean fuels were used by only 4% of subjects. A majority of males (64-80% depending on group) had never cooked, while the rest had used biomass cooking fuels, mainly wood/dry leaves, with only 6 having used rice straw and/or cow dung. All females of each group had used wood/dry leaves for cooking. Close to half had also used rice straw and/or cow dung. Among females, after controlling for family history of cataract and education and combining the two control groups, case status was shown to be significantly related to lifetime exposure to rice straw, fitted as a trend variable coded as never, ≤ median of all exposed, > median of all exposed (OR = 1.52, 95%CI 1.04-2.22), but not to lifetime exposure to wood/dry leaves. Case status among females showed an inverse association with ever use of cow dung as a cooking fuel (OR 0.43, 95%CI 0.22-0.81).

Conclusions

In this population, where cooking is almost exclusively done using biomass fuels, cases of young adult cataract among females were more likely to have had an increased lifetime exposure to cooking with rice straw fuel and not to have cooked using cow dung fuel. There is a possibility that these apparent associations could have been the result of uncontrolled founding, for instance by wealth. The nature of the associations, therefore, needs to be further investigated.

Keywords:
Young adult cataract; risk factor; traditional cooking fuels; Bangladesh