Exposure to children and risk of active trachoma in Tanzanian women

Am J Epidemiol. 1993 Feb 1;137(3):366-72. doi: 10.1093/oxfordjournals.aje.a116683.


The authors surveyed the trachoma status of 515 women aged 18-60 years and 527 children aged 1-7 years in the trachoma hyperendemic region of Kongwa, Tanzania, in 1989 to further describe the importance of exposure to young children as a risk factor for active trachoma in women. The women were identified as caretakers, who currently cared for children aged 1-7 years; noncaretakers, who lived with, but did not care for, children aged 1-7; or those without children aged 1-7 in the household. The age-adjusted odds ratios for active trachoma seemed to rise with greater exposure to young children, from 1.00 for women without such children, to 1.63 for noncaretakers and 2.43 for caretakers (trend test, p = 0.08). Among those who lived in households with young children, the prevalence of active trachoma in women increased with the total number of young children cared for and with the number of infected children cared for. The prevalence of active trachoma was 40% (6 of 15) for caretakers of three or more infected children, compared with 0 (0 of 88) for caretakers with no infected children (p < 0.0001). Caring for infected children also appeared to be associated with signs of chronic trachoma in caretakers. Noncaretakers who lived with infected children were not at a significantly increased risk for trachoma compared with noncaretakers who were not exposed to such children (5.4% (three of 56) vs. 5.6% (one of 18); p > 0.4). None of the facial signs observed in the children (flies on the face, nasal discharge, etc.) appeared to increase the odds ratio of active trachoma in caretakers beyond the increase associated with trachoma alone in the child. These data support the hypothesis that active disease in women is associated with direct caretaking of young children with active disease. Strategies that interrupt household transmission may affect the binding sequelae of trachoma in women.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Caregivers / statistics & numerical data*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Face
  • Family
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Hygiene / standards
  • Infant
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Sampling Studies
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Tanzania / epidemiology
  • Trachoma / epidemiology*
  • Trachoma / etiology
  • Trachoma / transmission
  • Women's Health*