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Ann Trop Paediatr. 2011;31(3):205-12. doi: 10.1179/1465328111Y.0000000003.

Effect of cryptosporidial and giardial diarrhoea on social maturity, intelligence and physical growth in children in a semi-urban slum in south India.

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  • 1Department of Gastrointestinal Sciences, Christian Medical College, Vellore, Tamil Nadu, India.



Early childhood diarrhoea is a major cause of infant morbidity and mortality in developing countries. Recurrent and persistent diarrhoea affect growth and cognition in children as young as 6 years.


To evaluate the effect of early childhood cryptosporidial and giardial diarrhoea on growth and development in children in a semi-urban slum in India. This is the first report of such assessment at 3 years of age.


This study was undertaken on 116 children who were part of an ongoing birth cohort study (n=452) of rotaviral and cryptosporidial diarrhoea between June and December 2005. Social quotients (SQ) assessed by the Vineland Social Maturity Scale, intelligence quotients (IQ) assessed by the Seguin Form Board Test, physical growth parameters and sociodemographic data in 84 children with a history of cryptosporidial or giardial diarrhoea were compared with those of 32 without diarrhoea.


Children with a past history of giardial diarrhoea showed a trend towards lower SQ (p=0.09) and had significantly lower IQ (p=0.04) and increased wasting (p=0.04). Cryptosporidial diarrhoea was not associated with poor IQ, SQ or physical growth.


This study demonstrates the long-term effect of protozoan diarrhoea, especially that caused by giardia, on both intelligence and physical growth in Indian children as early as 3 years of age and re-inforces the need for early detection and prevention of early childhood protozoan diarrhoea.

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