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Data are presented to quantify the relationship between nutritional status and diarrheal disease reported in a 1-week period in children in El Salvador. A strong association was observed between reported diarrhea and combined wasting (defined by low weight-for-height) and stunting (defined by low height-for-age). This association held for all age groups studied and was consistently observed in the seasons of low and high prevalence of malnutrition. There were also significant associations between reported diarrhea and wasting alone, low weight-for-age, and low arm circumference. No consistent association was observed between reported diarrhea and stunting or chronic undernutrition as defined by low height-for-age, suggesting that short stature is not, by itself, a risk factor for diarrhea. Previously defined seasonal patterns of malnutrition for El Salvador as a whole were confirmed and appear to affect some geographic subregions more severely than others. Definition of these regional and seasonal patterns of malnutrition and their association with diarrhea has implications for the targeting and timing of nutrition interventions.
Present address: Department of Health and Human Services, Bureau of State Services, Immunization Division, Atlanta, Georgia 30333.
Present address: Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health, Department of International Health, Division of Human Nutrition, 615 North Wolfe Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21205.