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The Influence of Intestinal Parasite Infection and Other Socioeconomic Variables on the Growth of Ecuadorian School Children Served by the Luchadores Del Norte Subcentro de Salud Clinic

1 August 2002


Background Mild-to-moderate malnutrition affects the lives of approximately one-quarter of the developing world's young children and since malnutrition and a high prevalence of intestinal parasites are frequently found in the same areas of the globe, it is tempting to attribute helminthes infections as a contributing cause. However, one cannot look at growth without also considering the socioeconomic conditions of the study population. Socioeconomic variables such as lack of personal hygiene, poor education, food shortages, the absence of proper plumbing, overcrowding in homes, indiscretion in contact with animals, and inadequate refuse disposal lead to a poor nutritional state. It is the goal of this study to identify how many of the children served by the Luchadores del Norte Subcentro de Salud Clinic in Guayaquil, Ecuador exhibit poor growth, as proven by falling below the 50th percentile on weight and/or height. This study also attempts to draw a correlation between poor growth and intestinal parasitosis and/or specific socioeconomic variables. In doing so, it is our hope that programs may be develop to identify and improve those risk factors that influence the health of Ecuador's children. Materials and Methods Study participants were selected from 2 schools close to the clinic and ranged in age from 4 to 15 years. Participants, with the help of their parents/guardians, were asked to fill out a questionnaire regarding socioeconomic variables, symptomatology, and prior infection with or treatment of ll1testinal parasites. The questionnaires were reviewed with the participants, by the researchers, to clarify all answers. Weight and height was then measured and recorded in terms of percentiles. Finally, the participants were asked to have their blood and 1,1:001 analyzed for anemia and parasite infection, respectively. All data was entered into an ACCESS database and then exported to Bpi Info fot analysis. Chi-square test (value < 5) and p-vaIue (value < 0.05) were used to determine the statistical significance of any correlations. Results According to the results, there is a directional relationship between intestinal parasites and malnourishment and/or stunting, as well as socioeconomic variables and malnourishment and/or stunting. However, statistical analysis shows that these relationships are not significant. As a result of the questionnaire, this study collected a large amount of valuable epidemiological information on the families served by the Luchadores del Norte Sub centro de Salud Clinic in Guayaquil, Ecuador. Conclusions While the data is not considered statistically significant, it is valuable in the sense that it shows a directional relationship between growth and intestinal parasites or socioeconomic variables. It is important to take this information and use it in a way that can create positive, long-term change in this community. This will happen by improving education, as thus income, improving water and sanitation systems, and by implementing a long-term treatment approach to parasite infections.


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