Author(s): Lander RL, Lander AG, Houghton L, Williams SM, CostaRibeiro H
Poor growth and intestinal parasitic infections are widespread in disadvantaged urban children. This cross-sectional study assessed factors influencing poor growth and intestinal parasites in 376 children aged three to six years in daycare centers in Salvador, in the Northeast Region of Brazil. Data was obtained from seven daycare centers on child weight, height, socio-economic status, health and intestinal parasites in stool samples. Prevalence of moderate underweight (< -1SD > -2SD), wasting and stunting was 12%, 16% and 6% respectively. Socioeconomic status, birth order, and maternal weight were predictors of poor anthropometric status. Almost 30% of children were infected with more than one intestinal parasite. Helminths (17.8%), notably Trichuris trichiura (12%) and Ascaris lumbricoides (10.5%), and protozoan Giardia duodenalis (13%) were the most common types of parasites detected. One percent of children had hookworm and Cryptosporidium sp. and 25% had non-pathogenic protozoan cysts. Boys from families with very low socio-economic status had lower linear growth and presented a greater risk of helminth infection. Deworming is considered an alternative for reducing the prevalence of intestinal parasitic infections in this age group.