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Prediction of Child Health by Household Density and Asset-Based Indices in Impoverished Indigenous Villages in Rural Panamá

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  • Institute of Parasitology and McGill School of Environment Macdonald Campus of McGill University, Ste-Anne de Bellevue, Quebec, Canada; School of Dietetics and Human Nutrition, Macdonald Campus of McGill University, Ste-Anne de Bellevue, Quebec, Canada; Escuela de Nutrición y Dietética, Facultad de Medicina, Universidad de Panamá, Panamá City, Panamá
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Chronic infection over a 16-month period and stunting of preschool children were compared between more spatially dense versus dispersed households in rural Panamá. Chronic protozoan infection was associated with higher household density, lower household wealth index, poor household water quality, yard defecation, and the practice of not washing hands with soap before eating. Models for chronic diarrhea confirmed the importance of household wealth, water quality, sanitation, and hygiene practices. Furthermore, chronic protozoan infection was an important predictor for low height-for-age, along with low household wealth index scores, but not household density. Thus, despite better access to health related infrastructure in the more densely populated households, chronic protozoan infection was more common, and was associated with higher rates of child stunting, compared with more dispersed households.

Author Notes

*Address correspondence to Carli M. Halpenny, Institute of Parasitology and McGill School of Environment, Macdonald Campus of McGill University, 21,111 Lakeshore Road, Ste-Anne de Bellevue, Quebec H9X 3V9, Canada. E-mail: carli.halpenny@mail.mcgill.ca

Financial support: This study was supported by the Canadian International Development Research Centre, the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and the Secretaría Nacional de Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación of Panamá. Research at the Institute of Parasitology is supported by a regroupement stratégique from the Fonds Québecois pour la Recherche sur la Nature et les Technologies.

Authors’ addresses: Carli M. Halpenny and Marilyn E. Scott, Institute of Parasitology and McGill School of Environment, Macdonald Campus of McGill University, Ste-Anne de Bellevue, Quebec, Canada, E-mails: carli.halpenny@mail.mcgill.ca and marilyn.scott@mcgill.ca. Kristine G. Koski, School of Dietetics and Human Nutrition, Macdonald Campus of McGill University, Ste-Anne de Bellevue, Quebec, Canada, E-mail: kris.koski@mcgill.ca. Victoria E. Valdés, Escuela de Nutrición y Dietética, Facultad de Medicina, Universidad de Panamá, Panamá, City, Panamá, E-mail: victoriavalds@gmail.com.

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