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Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg. 1989 Jan-Feb;83(1):128-31.

Prevention of diarrhoea and dysentery by hand washing.

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  • 1Epidemiology Research Division, Department of Medical Research, Rangoon, Burma.


A 'non-blind' randomized hand washing intervention study was conducted in a low socioeconomic community in Rangoon to determine if hand washing by 494 children under 5 years old and their mothers could reduce the incidence of diarrhoea and dysentery in these children. Children and mothers in the intervention group were asked to wash their hands after defaecation and before preparing or eating their 3 main meals; 2 bars of plain soap were provided. The control group was left to follow customary practice. Diarrhoea and dysentery incidences in the 2 groups were monitored during 4 months by comparing the incidence density ratios (IDR). The diarrhoeal incidence among the children in the hand washing households was significantly lower than that among those in the control households (IDR = 0.70, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.54-0.92). For dysentery incidence, although there was a 40% reduction (IDR = 0.58, 95% CI = 0.22-1.55) in the children under 2 years, there seemed to be no impact in older children (IDR = 1.2, 95% CI = 0.52-2.80). The study indicates that hand washing is effective in reducing the morbidity from diarrhoea and dysentery.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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