Volume 97, Issue 3
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645



Child feces represent a particular health risk to children due to increased prevalence of enteric agents and a higher risk of exposure owing to exploratory behaviors of young children. The safe management of such feces presents a significant challenge, not only for the 2.4 billion who lack access to improved sanitation, but also due to unhygienic feces collection and disposal and poor subsequent handwashing practices. We assessed potential sources of fecal exposure by documenting child feces management practices in a cross-sectional study of 851 children < 5 years of age from 694 households in 42 slums in two cities in Odisha, India. No preambulatory children and only 27.4% of ambulatory children defecated directly in the latrine. Children that did not defecate in a latrine mainly defecated on the ground, whether they were preambulatory or ambulatory. Use of diapers (1.2%) or potties (2.8%) was low. If the feces were removed from the ground, the defecation area was usually cleaned, if at all, only with water. Most children’s feces were disposed of in surrounding environment, with only 6.5% deposited into any kind of latrine, including unimproved. Handwashing with soap of the caregiver after child feces disposal and child anal cleaning with soap after defecation was also uncommon. While proper disposal of child feces in an improved latrine still represents a major challenge, control of the risks presented requires attention to the full range of exposures associated to the management of child feces, and not simply the place of disposal.

[open-access] This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


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  • Received : 23 Aug 2016
  • Accepted : 03 Apr 2017
  • Published online : 17 Jul 2017

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