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ASSOCIATION BETWEEN NUTRITIONAL STATUS, ENVIRONMENTAL AND SOCIO-ECONOMICS FACTORS
Parasite infections are a public health issue, especially in developing countries.1,2 Among enteroparasites, Giardia lamblia is the protozoan most frequently found, with estimated prevalence rates of 20—30% in developing countries and 2—5% in developed countries.3,4 Environmental and socio-economic factors, as well as hygiene habits, are important determinants of G. lamblia infection prevalence.5,6 Giardiasis is characterised as a wide-spectrum illness, although the majority (60—80%) of infected individuals is asymptomatic. The main clinical symptom is diarrhoea, but abdominal pain and weight loss are also reported.7 In 2001, Katz and Taylor8 suggested that giardiasis might influence the growth and development of infected children. Concomitantly, protein-energy malnutrition can increase susceptibility to and morbidity from G. lamblia and other parasite infections.9 However, studies of the association between nutritional deficiency and giardiasis are contradictory. In Brazil, some studies have shown that children infected by G. lamblia have a significantly lower weight per age (W/A) and height per age (H/A) than children who are not infected.10,11 These results were corroborated by a study carried out in Ecuador12 showing that children with giardiasis had a higher risk of growth deficits than did noninfected children. However, Sawaya et al.13 did not find any association between infection by Giardia and nutritional status. In this study, we investigated the association between nutritional status, environmental and socio-economic factors and G. lamblia infection among children aged 6—71 months who were living in Itinga, Minas Gerais, Brazil.
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