Decreased Weight-for-Age Associated with Mass Deworming among Young Ethiopian Schoolchildren in Jimma Town, Southwest Ethiopia: A School-Based Cross-Sectional Study

Kylie Geer Department of Biology, Colgate University, Hamilton, New York;

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Zeleke Mekonnen Institute of Health, School of Medical Laboratory Sciences, Jimma University, Jimma, Ethiopia

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Bineyam Taye Department of Biology, Colgate University, Hamilton, New York;

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ABSTRACT.

School-based mass deworming programs are implemented to reduce soil-transmitted helminth (STH) infection prevalence and intensity among school-aged children. However, previous studies debate the impact of deworming beyond the removal of worms. Hence, this study aimed to examine the effect of mass deworming on nutritional indicators in young Ethiopian schoolchildren. A school-based cross-sectional study was conducted among 1,036 participants from April to May 2020 in Jimma Town, Ethiopia. An interviewer-based questionnaire was administered to the children to gather data on sociodemographic, lifestyle variables, and deworming status. Anthropometric measurements were taken for the height and weight of the children. Stool samples were collected and analyzed for STH infection using direct wet mount microscopy and the Kato-Katz technique. In multivariate logistic regression analysis, deworming within the past 6 months or 1 year was not significantly associated with underweight, stunting, and thinning. However, deworming within the past year was significantly associated with decreased weight-for-age z-score (adjusted mean difference = −0.245; 95% CI: −0.413 to −0.076; P = 0.004). Deworming in the past 6 months demonstrated a nonsignificant trend toward increased stunting (adjusted odds ratio = 1.258; 95% CI: 0.923–1.714; P = 0.145). This study provides evidence that deworming in the past 6 months or 1 year was not significantly associated with underweight, stunting, and thinning. However, deworming within the past year was associated with a significantly decreased weight-for-age z-score in young Ethiopian schoolchildren of Jimma Town after adjustment for confounding variables.

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Author Notes

Financial support: The Picker Interdisciplinary Science Institute (Picker ISI) at Colgate University funded the study. The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of Colgate University or the Institute of Health, School of Medical Laboratory Sciences, Jimma University.

Disclosure: The study was approved by the Institutional Review Boards of Colgate University, Hamilton, NY, and Jimma University Institute of Health, Ethiopia. We obtained written or fingerprint consent from parents or legal guardians after informing them of the study procedures and aims. To ensure participant privacy, confidential numerical identifiers were assigned to each child, and all participant information remains password protected in electronic files. Children were also informed about their ability to withdraw from this study at any time without jeopardizing their right to receive any services in the school. Children who were found to have intestinal parasites were subsequently treated with standard antiparasitic drugs per local treatment guidelines.

Authors’ addresses: Kylie Geer and Bineyam Taye, Department of Biology, Colgate University, Hamilton, NY, E-mails: kgeer@colgate.edu and btaye@colgate.edu. Zeleke Mekonnen, Institute of Health, School of Medical Laboratory Sciences, Jimma University, Jimma, Ethiopia, E-mail: zeleke.mekonnen@ju.edu.et.

Address correspondence to Bineyam Taye, Department of Biology, Colgate University, 214 Olin Hall, 13 Oak Dr., Hamilton, NY 13346. E-mail: btaye@colgate.edu
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