Interactions between malnutrition, soil-transmitted helminthiasis and poverty among children living in periurban communities in Maranhao State, Northeastern Brazil

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Abstract

Poverty, malnutrition and neglected tropical diseases such as soil-transmitted helminthiases (STHs) interact in a multi-causal feedback network. This study aimed to assess the relationships between STHs, income and nutritional status of children in impoverished communities in the city of Caxias, Maranhao State, Northeastern Brazil. A cross-sectional survey (n=259 children) was carried out with the collection of fecal samples and assessment of sociodemographic, anthropometric, dietary and sanitation data. Hookworm infection and ascariasis presented prevalence rates of 14.3% and 9.3%, respectively. The logistic regression analysis showed that hookworm infection was more frequent in males (odds ratio [OR]=3.43; 95% confidence interval [CI]=1.45-8.08), children aged 11-15 years old (OR=3.72; 95% CI=1.19-11.62), children living in poor families (OR=2.44; 95% CI=1.04-5.68) and those living in rented houses (OR=5.74; 95%CI=1.91-17.25). Concerning ascariasis, living in the Caldeiroes community (OR=0.01; 95%CI=0-0.17) and belonging to the 11-15 years age group (OR=0.21; 95%CI=0.04-1.02) were protection factors. Poor children have a significantly lower frequency of consumption of meat, milk, vegetables, tubers and fruits than not poor children. The frequent consumption of meat, milk and tubers was associated with significant higher values in the parameter height-for-age, whereas the consumption of meat and milk positively influenced the weight-for-age. The frequencies of stunting, underweight and wasting were 8.1%, 4.9% and 2.9%, respectively. The multivariate model demonstrated that stunting was significantly associated with economic poverty (OR=2.82; 95%CI=1.03-7.70) and low weight was associated with male sex (OR=6.43; 95% CI=1.35-30.68). In conclusion, the study describes the interactions between the dimensions of development represented by income, STHs and nutritional status revealing the importance of raising income levels to improve the living conditions of families in impoverished communities in Northeastern Brazil.

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Almeida, M. M., Monteiro, K. J. L., Bacelar, P. A. A., Dos Santos, J. P., de Freitas, S. P. C., Evangelista, B. B. C., … Carvalho-Costa, F. A. (2020). Interactions between malnutrition, soil-transmitted helminthiasis and poverty among children living in periurban communities in Maranhao State, Northeastern Brazil. Revista Do Instituto de Medicina Tropical de Sao Paulo, 62, 1–9. https://doi.org/10.1590/S1678-9946202062073

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