Prevalence and factors associated with intestinal parasitic infection among children in an urban slum of Karachi

PLoS One. 2008;3(11):e3680. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0003680. Epub 2008 Nov 10.


Background: Intestinal parasitic infections are endemic worldwide and have been described as constituting the greatest single worldwide cause of illness and disease. Poverty, illiteracy, poor hygiene, lack of access to potable water and hot and humid tropical climate are the factors associated with intestinal parasitic infections. The study aimed to estimate prevalence and identify factors associated with intestinal parasitic infections among 1 to 5 years old children residing in an urban slum of Karachi Pakistan.

Methods and principal findings: A cross sectional survey was conducted from February to June 2006 in Ghosia Colony Gulshan Town Karachi, Pakistan. A simple random sample of 350 children aged 1-5 years was collected. The study used structured pre-tested questionnaire, anthropometric tools and stool tests to obtain epidemiological and disease data. Data were analyzed using appropriate descriptive, univariate and multivariable logistic regression methods. The mean age of participants was 2.8 years and 53% were male. The proportions of wasted, stunted and underweight children were 10.4%, 58.9% and 32.7% respectively. The prevalence of Intestinal parasitic infections was estimated to be 52.8% (95% CI: 46.1; 59.4). Giardia lamblia was the most common parasite followed by Ascaris lumbricoides, Blastocystis hominis and Hymenolepis nana. About 43% children were infected with single parasite and 10% with multiple parasites. Age {Adjusted Odds Ratio (aOR) = 1.5; 95% CI: 1.1; 1.9}, living in rented households (aOR = 2.0; 95% CI: 1.0; 3.9) and history of excessive crying (aOR = 1.9; 95% CI: 1.0; 3.4) were significantly associated with intestinal parasitic infections.

Conclusions: Intestinal parasites are highly prevalent in this setting and poverty was implicated as an important risk factor for infection. Effective poverty reduction programmes and promotion of deworming could reduce intestinal parasite carriage. There is a need for mass scale campaigns to create awareness about health and hygiene.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Ascaris lumbricoides / parasitology
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Giardia lamblia / parasitology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Intestinal Diseases, Parasitic / epidemiology*
  • Intestinal Diseases, Parasitic / parasitology
  • Intestines / parasitology*
  • Pakistan / epidemiology
  • Poverty Areas
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors