Hubert Department of Global Health, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, Atlanta GA, USA.
Background: The state of Chiapas has held the first place of extreme poverty in Mexico. The majority of Chiapas' municipalities are inhabited by marginalized, indigenous populations, who usually present diarrhea of unknown etiology. We evaluated the nutritional status, intestinal parasites, and common bacterial pathogens, including DEC (diarrheagenic Escherichia coli) strains, in 178 children under five years of age with a high (rural) and a moderate (urban) degree of marginalization.
Methods: Z-scores for anthropometric indexes from the children were obtained, whereas intestinal parasites were investigated by using a direct coproparasitoscopic analysis and a concentration method. DEC strains were detected by polymerase chain reaction (PCR).
Results: The stunting prevalence in children from the rural and urban regions was 79.8 and 7.5%, respectively. Only children from rural municipalities were parasitized (72.6%), being Ascaris lumbricoides and Entamoeba histolytica/Entamoeba dispar the most prevalent parasites (57.1 and 38.1%, respectively). More than half of the children presented moderated ascariasis. Besides Giardia intestinalis, these parasites were associated with stunting. The prevalence of DEC strains was similar in both regions.
Conclusions: Only children from the Chiapas Highlands (rural zone) exhibited high prevalences of stunting and intestinal parasites. A reevaluation of social development programs should be in place to address stunting and intestinal parasitoses, mainly in rural regions of Chiapas, to avoid adverse functional consequences on these children.
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