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Challenges Associated with Reducing Malnutrition and Diarrheal Disease in Children in Developing Countries

Peltier, Gretchen Loeffler; Remans, Roseline; Fanzo, Jessica; Palm, Cheryl; Ngigi, Stephen; Walsh, Barbara

doi: 10.1097/01.ede.0000362679.12178.3d
Abstracts: ISEE 21st Annual Conference, Dublin, Ireland, August 25–29, 2009: Symposium Abstracts

Columbia University, New York, NY, United States.


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Background and Objective:

Malnutrition is a significant global health concern, particularly in children under the age of five. The causes of malnutrition are varied and include inadequate food, inability to absorb nutrients (e.g. diarrheal disease), and low diet diversity. In the Millennium Village of Sauri located in western Kenya, food production has increased and diversified and basic health care has improved but the nutritional status of many children is still poor. This pilot study seeks improve child nutritional status by integrating food production and nutrition with access to clean drinking water, hygiene education, and community participation.

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A pilot study was conducted in fifty households with children under the age of five in the village of Sauri, western Kenya. Changes in five outcomes were targeted: crop and livestock diversity, diet diversity, household water quality, prevalence of children’s underweight, and diarrheal disease prevalence before and after the introduction of nutrition and hygiene education and household water treatment.

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Analysis of baseline data revealed that 66% of the household drinking water samples had fecal coliform contamination and 60% of the springs were contaminated with fecal coliform. Twenty-five percent of the households reported that at least one child under five had diarrhea in the previous week. Crop diversity was relatively high in farmer fields with an average of 14.6 edible plants per farm. Diet diversity was intermediate, with a diet diversity score of 3.9 when based on seven food groups.

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Opportunities exist for intensive education on nutritional benefits of different food groups and the importance of improved hygiene and household treatment and protection of drinking water. Application of a watershed approach to identify the threats to water quality and encouraging the community to be involved in the protection of springs will support the long-term sustainability of source protection efforts.

© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.