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Acta Paediatr. 2018 Jul;107(7):1230-1239. doi: 10.1111/apa.14281. Epub 2018 Apr 17.

Children living in the slums of Bangladesh face risks from unsafe food and water and stunted growth is common.

Author information

1
Nutrition and Clinical Services Division, International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh, Dhaka, Bangladesh.
2
Lancaster Environment Centre (LEC), Lancaster University, Lancaster, UK.

Abstract

AIM:

This study investigated the microbial quality of food and water consumed by children in four slums in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, together with the associated risk factors.

METHODS:

This cross-sectional study took place from December 2015 to May 2016 and focused on 360 children under the age of five. We recorded household food security, namely adequate food for a healthy life, socio-economic and nutritional status, hygiene and feeding practices. Food and water samples were analysed.

RESULTS:

We found that 63% of the children were malnourished and 58% were stunted. Yeast and moulds were detected in 86% of the food samples and coliforms in 73%. All the water samples were contaminated with faecal coliforms, yeasts and moulds and Staphylococcus. Food insecurity affected 83% of households. Children were twice as likely to be malnourished if they were born with a perceived low birthweight or their mothers did not wash their hands with soap after cleaning the child's bottom following defecation. Exclusively breastfed children were less likely to develop malnutrition.

CONCLUSION:

Children from the Dhaka slums were frequently stunted and malnourished and contaminated food and water was common. Integrated efforts are essential to create public awareness about hygiene.

KEYWORDS:

Contaminated water; Food security; Hygiene practices; Malnutrition; Stunted growth

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