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Risk Factors for Diarrhea in Children Under Five Years of Age Residing in Peri-urban Communities in Cochabamba, Bolivia

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  • Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Department of International Health, Baltimore, Maryland; Food for the Hungry, Hunger Corps, Phoenix, Arizona; Messiah College, Biological Sciences, Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania

This study examined the relationship between childhood diarrhea prevalence and caregiver knowledge of the causes and prevention of diarrhea in a prospective cohort of 952 children < 5 years of age in Cochabamba, Bolivia. The survey of caregiver knowledge found that more than 80% of caregivers were unaware that hand washing with soap could prevent childhood diarrhea. Furthermore, when asked how to keep food safe for children to eat only 17% of caregivers reported hand washing before cooking and feeding a child. Lack of caregiver awareness of the importance of practices related to hygiene and sanitation for diarrhea prevention were significant risk factors for diarrheal disease in this cohort. The knowledge findings from this study suggest that health promotion in these communities should put further emphasis on increasing knowledge of how water treatment, hand washing with soap, proper disposal of child feces, and food preparation relate to childhood diarrhea prevention.

Author Notes

* Address correspondence to Christine Marie George, Johns Hopkins, Department of International Health, 615 N. Wolfe Street, Room E5535, Baltimore, MD 21205-2103. E-mail: cmgeorge@jhsph.edu

Authors' addresses: Christine Marie George, Jamie Perin, and Henry Perry, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Department of International Health, Baltimore, MD, E-mails: cmgeorge@jhsph.edu, jperin@jhsph.edu, and heperry@jhsph.edu. Karen J. Neiswender de Calani, Food for the Hungry, Hunger Corps, Phoenix, AZ, E-mail: kcalani@fh.org. Thomas P. Davis Jr., Feed the Children, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, E-mail: tom.davis@feedthechildren.org. Erik D. Lindquist, Messiah College, Biological Sciences, Mechanicsburg, PA, E-mail: quist@messiah.edu.

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