Background: Noma, a rapidly progressing infection of the oral cavity, mainly affects children. The true burden is unknown. This study reports estimated noma prevalence in children in northwest Nigeria.
Methods: Oral screening was performed on all ≤15 year olds, with caretaker consent, in selected households during this cross-sectional survey. Noma stages were classified using WHO criteria and caretakers answered survey questions. The prevalence of noma was estimated stratified by age group (0-5 and 6-15 years). Factors associated with noma were estimated using logistic regression.
Results: A total of 177 clusters, 3499 households and 7122 children were included. In this sample, 4239 (59.8%) were 0-5 years and 3692 (52.1%) were female. Simple gingivitis was identified in 3.1% (n=181; 95% CI 2.6 to 3.8), acute necrotising gingivitis in 0.1% (n=10; CI 0.1 to 0.3) and oedema in 0.05% (n=3; CI 0.02 to 0.2). No cases of late-stage noma were detected. Multivariable analysis in the group aged 0-5 years showed having a well as the drinking water source (adjusted odds ratio (aOR) 2.1; CI 1.2 to 3.6) and being aged 3-5 years (aOR 3.9; CI 2.1 to 7.8) was associated with being a noma case. In 6-15 year olds, being male (aOR 1.5; CI 1.0 to 2.2) was associated with being a noma case and preparing pap once or more per week (aOR 0.4; CI 0.2 to 0.8) was associated with not having noma. We estimated that 129120 (CI 105294 to 1 52 947) individuals <15 years of age would have any stage of noma at the time of the survey within the two states. Most of these cases (93%; n=120 082) would be children with simple gingivitis.
Conclusions: Our study identified a high prevalence of children at risk of developing advanced noma. This disease is important but neglected and therefore merits inclusion in the WHO neglected tropical diseases list.
Keywords: cross-sectional survey; epidemiology; other infection, disease, disorder, or injury; public health.
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