Non-communicable respiratory disease and air pollution exposure in Malawi:a prospective cohort study

Rylance, S. and Jewell, C. and Naunje, A. and Mbalume, F. and Chetwood, J.D. and Nightingale, R. and Zurba, L. and Flitz, G. and Gordon, S.B. and Lesosky, M. and Balmes, J.R. and Mortimer, K. (2020) Non-communicable respiratory disease and air pollution exposure in Malawi:a prospective cohort study. Thorax, 75 (3). pp. 220-226. ISSN 0040-6376

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Rationale: There are no population-based studies from sub-Saharan Africa describing longitudinal lung function in adults. Objectives: To explore the lung function trajectories and their determinants, including the effects of air pollution exposures and the cleaner-burning biomass-fuelled cookstove intervention of the Cooking and Pneumonia Study (CAPS), in adults living in rural Malawi. Methods: We assessed respiratory symptoms and exposures, spirometry and measured 48-hour personal exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and carbon monoxide (CO), on three occasions over 3 years. Longitudinal data were analysed using mixed-effects modelling by maximum likelihood estimation. Measurements and main results: We recruited 1481 adults, mean (SD) age 43.8 (17.8) years, including 523 participants from CAPS households (271 intervention; 252 controls), and collected multiple spirometry and air pollution measurements for 654 (44%) and 929 (63%), respectively. Compared with Global Lung Function Initiative African-American reference ranges, mean (SD) FEV1 (forced expiratory volume in 1 s) and FVC (forced vital capacity) z-scores were -0.38 (1.14) and -0.19 (1.09). FEV1 and FVC were determined by age, sex, height, previous TB and body mass index, with FEV1 declining by 30.9 mL/year (95% CI: 21.6 to 40.1) and FVC by 38.3 mL/year (95% CI: 28.5 to 48.1). There was decreased exposure to PM2.5 in those with access to a cookstove but no effect on lung function. Conclusions: We did not observe accelerated lung function decline in this cohort of Malawian adults, compared with that reported in healthy, non-smoking populations from high-income countries; this suggests that the lung function deficits we measured in adulthood may have origins in early life.

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23 Mar 2020 10:20
Last Modified:
19 Sep 2023 02:24