Background: The association of intestinal helminths with undernutrition varies by locality. The objective of this study was to investigate the nature of the association of helminth infection with the nutritional status of school children in Tikur Wuha Elementary School, northwestern Ethiopia. Methods: A total of 403 school children were examined for intestinal helminth infection (stool samples) and nutritional status, thick Kato-Katz and anthropometric techniques, respectively during a baseline survey. Among these children, 235 were treated for helminth infection and re-examined for weight changes four weeks after treatment. Results: Among the 403 study participants, 29.3%, 28.3% and 58.3% were stunted, underweight and infected with intestinal helminths, respectively. In the multivariate regression model, the probability of being underweight was significantly higher in children who were infected with intestinal helminths, aged 5-10 years and male compared with children who were without helminth infection, aged 11-15 years and female, respectively. The association of helminths with low body mass was strong in the case of hookworm infection, and the probability of being underweight significantly decreased with every one-year increase in the age of the children. The means for weight, weight-for-age z-scores and body mass index-for-age z-scores of the children significantly increased four weeks after treatment for helminth infection, with a single dose of albendazole and/or praziquantel. Conclusions: Helminth-infected male children in the 5- to 10-year-old age group were more vulnerable to undernutrition, which decreased four weeks after treatment. Thus, deworming of children living in the area might be important for improving their nutritional status.
- Northwestern Ethiopia
- School children
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Infectious Diseases