In developing countries, malnutrition is a considerable health problem with prevalence ranges of 4-46%, with 1-10% severely malnourished.
This study aimed to determine the prevalence of malnutrition and intestinal parasitoses and identify risk factors of malnutrition in schoolchildren.
A cross-sectional study was carried out on 322 schoolchildren, of age 6 to 14 years, attending private and government primary schools, in Gonder town, North West Ethiopia. The study was conducted from December 2006 to February 2007. Nutritional status of these children was determined using anthropometric parameters (weight-for-age, height-for-age and weight-for-height). Epi Info 2000 software was used to evaluate anthropometric results of each individual and formol-ether concentration technique was employed to identify parasites.
The prevalence of underweight, stunting, wasting and intestinal parasitoses was 34.8%, 27%, 50% and 55.6%, respectively. Parasites encountered during the study were Ascaris lumbricoides (17.8%), Trichuiris trichiura (3.4%), hookworm (4.3%), Giardia lamblia (9%), Entamoeba histolytica (2.1%), Schistosoma mansoni (2.4%), Hymenolepis nana (4.7%) and Enterobius vermicularis (0.31%), respectively, in single infections. Only two cases of Strongyloides stercoralis was found in multiple infections and none in single infections. The prevalence of multiple parasitoses was 10.9%. Maternal literacy status, sex and age of the child were significantly associated with malnutrition (p < 0.05).
Even though chronic type of malnutrition (stunting) was decreasing, indicators of acute type of malnutrition were increasing at a higher rate in the area. Implementation of maternal education and school feeding programs, avoidance of students from getting in contact with waste and river water were recommended to avoid malnutrition and intestinal parasitoses in children of the study area.