Stunting and helminth infection in early preschool-age children in a resource-poor community in the Amazon lowlands of Peru

Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg. 2011 Apr;105(4):204-8. doi: 10.1016/j.trstmh.2010.12.003. Epub 2011 Feb 23.


The World Health Organization recommends deworming of children aged 12-24 months in highly endemic areas. Our research objectives were to: 1) examine prevalence patterns of helminth infection in early childhood; 2) assess the association between helminth infection and socio-demographic characteristics; and 3) examine the effect of the intensity of helminth infection on stunting and anemia. A survey of children (7-9 and 12-14 months) living in Belén (Peru) was undertaken between July 2007 and February 2008. A questionnaire was administered to obtain socio-demographic characteristics, blood and stool samples were collected, and length-for-age Z scores were calculated. The Kato-Katz method was used to determine the prevalence and intensity of Ascaris, Trichuris, and hookworm infections. Of 370 participating children, 349 had parasitological results. Infections first appeared in children at 8 months of age. The prevalence of any helminth infection increased linearly to approximately 37.0% (95%CI: 24.3-51.3%) by 14 months of age. Multivariate analysis showed that age, female sex, and residing in the floodplain were significant determinants of helminth infection. Among infected children, moderate-to-heavy infection of any helminth was associated with stunting (βadjusted=-0.84; 95%CI: -1.48, -0.20). These results support the implementation of deworming programs aimed at young children in highly endemic areas.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anemia / epidemiology
  • Anemia / parasitology*
  • Animals
  • Ascariasis / complications*
  • Ascariasis / epidemiology
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Female
  • Growth Disorders / epidemiology
  • Growth Disorders / parasitology*
  • Hookworm Infections / complications*
  • Hookworm Infections / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Peru / epidemiology
  • Poverty Areas
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Trichuriasis / complications*
  • Trichuriasis / epidemiology
  • Trichuris