Children living in the slums of Bangladesh face risks from unsafe food and water and stunted growth is common

Authors Mostafa, I.; Naila, N.N.; Mahfuz, M.; Roy, M.; Faruque, A.S.G.; Ahmed, T.
Year of Publication 2018
Type of Publication Journal Article
Journal Acta Paedriatrica
Open Access Yes


Aim: This study investigated the microbial quality of food and water consumed by childrenin four slums in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, together with the associated risk factors. Methods: This cross-sectional study took place from December 2015 to May 2016 andfocused on 360 children under the age of five. We recorded household food security,namely adequate food for a healthy life, socio-economic and nutritional status, hygiene andfeeding practices. Food and water samples were analysed. Results: We found that 63% of the children were malnourished and 58% were stunted. Yeast and moulds were detected in 86% of the food samples and coliforms in 73%. All the water samples were contaminated with faecal coliforms, yeasts and moulds andStaphylococcus. Food insecurity affected 83% of households. Children were twice as likely to be malnourished if they were born with a perceived low birthweight or their mothers did not wash their hands with soap after cleaning the child’s bottom following defecation. Exclusively breastfed children were less likely to develop malnutrition. Conclusion: Children from the Dhaka slums were frequently stunted and malnourishedand contaminated food and water was common. Integrated efforts are essential to createpublic awareness about hygiene.