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Pediatr Int. 2010 Feb;52(1):6-12. doi: 10.1111/j.1442-200X.2009.02881.x. Epub 2009 Apr 9.

Working conditions and health status of child workers: cross-sectional study of the students at an apprenticeship school in Kocaeli.

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Kocaeli University, Medical Faculty, Department of Public Health, Kocaeli University Campus, Kocaeli, Turkey.



Child labor remains a widespread phenomenon in today's world. The purpose of the present study was to describe the working conditions and health status of child workers in Kocaeli.


A cross-sectional research study has been carried out on 365 working children at the Kocaeli Occupational Training Center. Data were collected on working conditions, smoking habits, work accidents, perceived health status and psychological status using General Health Questionnaire-12. In order to evaluate the physical growth of children, their height and weight were measured.


Most working children usually have a low level of education, low income and extended families. The mean age for children to start working was 14.8 +/- 1.5 years and their daily working periods were 11.3 +/- 1.3 h on average. Girls were found to have more psychopathology compared to boys on the GHQ-12 and the results were statistically significant. The height z score was less than -2 SD at 6.9% while the weight z score was less than -2 SD at 1.9%. According to body mass index (BMI) percentiles range, 3% of children were found to be underweight. A statistically significant and negative directional correlation was detected between body mass index z scores with age and daily working periods. Statistically significant but weak correlations were detected between height for age z scores and the starting age of work and also between weight for age z scores and chronological age.


Both the mental and the physical health of children were found to be negatively affected, by having to work at an early age, and by long working hours. For this reason, immediate and direct intervention should be taken to eradicate child labor, and protect children from unsafe and exploitative working conditions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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