SETTING: Greater Banjul and Upper River Regions, The Gambia.
OBJECTIVE: To investigate tractable social, environmental and nutritional risk factors for childhood pneumonia.
DESIGN: A case-control study examining the association of crowding, household air pollution (HAP) and nutritional factors with pneumonia was undertaken in children aged 2–59 months: 458 children with severe pneumonia, defined according to the modified WHO criteria, were compared with 322 children with non-severe pneumonia, and these groups were compared to 801 neighbourhood controls. Controls were matched by age, sex, area and season.
RESULTS: Strong evidence was found of an association between bed-sharing with someone with a cough and severe pneumonia (adjusted OR [aOR] 5.1, 95%CI 3.2–8.2, P < 0.001) and non-severe pneumonia (aOR 7.3, 95%CI 4.1–13.1, P < 0.001), with 18% of severe cases estimated to be attributable to this risk factor. Malnutrition and pneumonia had clear evidence of association, which was strongest between severe malnutrition and severe pneumonia (aOR 8.7, 95%CI 4.2–17.8, P < 0.001). No association was found between pneumonia and individual carbon monoxide exposure as a measure of HAP.
CONCLUSION: Bed-sharing with someone with a cough is an important risk factor for severe pneumonia, and potentially tractable to intervention, while malnutrition remains an important tractable determinant.