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J Trop Pediatr. 1995 Apr;41(2):112-5.

Chronic malnutrition and Trypanosoma cruzi infection in children.

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Federal University of Goias, Department of Community Health, Gioânia-Go, Brazil.


The distribution of T. cruzi infection overlaps regions with high prevalence of child malnutrition. We examined the possible association between T. cruzi infection and chronic malnutrition. In a cross-sectional survey conducted among 1900 7-12 year-old schoolchildren in 60 village schools in central Brazil, anthropometric measurements (NCHS) taken from 153 children with at least two positive serological tests for antibodies against T. cruzi (IIF, ELISA, IHA) were compared to two age and sex seronegative matched classmates. Information on children's medical history and socio-economic status (SES) were collected from parents of the participants. Seropositive children had a 2.4-fold risk (95% CI 1.4-4.0) of being stunted (z-score < 2.0 of height-for-age) when compared to uninfected children even after adjusting for confounding variables. Being underweight (z-score < -2.0 of weight-for-age) was also statistically associated with seropositivity to T. cruzi (OR = 2.8, 95% CI 1.4-5.6). No statistical evidence of multiplicative interaction between nutritional status and SES was detected. Further studies on nutrition and metabolism are required to look into a possible physiopathological mechanism for this association.

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