Children exposed to open-fire cooking in developing countries experience difficulty with memory, problem-solving and social skills, according to researchers at the University of California, Riverside and Pitzer College in Claremont, Calif.
Research in the past decade has identified numerous health risks to children who are exposed regularly to smoke from open fires used in cooking. But until now, no one has associated smoke from cooking fires with deficits in cognitive development, said Mary Gauvain, professor of psychology at UC Riverside. She and Robert L. Munroe from Pitzer College co-authored “Exposure to open-fire cooking and cognitive performance in children,” which appears in the International Journal of Environmental Health Research.
Their research comes as international public and private agencies advocate, through the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, the use of clean and efficient cooking stoves in the developing world. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is among the alliance’s supporters because of the impacts of open-fire cooking on child health and global warming.