Though early childhood nutritional status is an important aspect of children’s health, different factors affect it. Intestinal parasitosis is common among children of developing countries. Even if studies well discuss the public health significance of intestinal parasites and nutritional deficits as a separate issue, evidences discussing their relationship are limited from Ethiopia. Therefore, this study investigated the relationship between intestinal parasites and anthropometric status of pre-school children in Hawassa Zuria district, South Ethiopia. A community based cross-sectional study design was applied. Five hundred ninety seven (597) child-mother pairs were selected using simple random sampling. Basic data was collected by interviewing mothers with a semi-structured questionnaire. Z-scores of children’s anthropometric statuses were generated using the WHO-Anthro software. Pearson’s chi-square analysis was done to test the association between intestinal parasites and nutritional status. Prevalence of stunting, underweight and wasting were 245 (41%), 134 (22.4%) and 79 (13.2%), respectively. Half (51.3%) of children were infected at least with one type of intestinal parasite. Ascaris lumbricoides was the most prevalent (42.2%) parasite. A. lumbricoides was associated with weight for age (X2 = 16.44 and p-value <0.001), weight for height (X2 = 11.86 and p-value = 0.001) and height for age (X2 = 27.77 and p-value < 0.001). Hookworm (X2 = 4.08 and p-value = 0.04) and Trichuris trichiura (X2 = 5.32 and p-value = 0.02) were associated with weight for height status. Giardia lamblia was associated with height for age (X2 = 8.81 and p-value = 0.003) and weight for age (X2 = 6.41 and p-value = 0.01). Entamoeba histolytica was associated with height for age (X2 = 4.59 and p-value = 0.03). Both undernutrition and intestinal parasites are prevalent in the study area. A. lumbricoides, Hookworm, G. lamblia, E. histolytica and T. trichiura are associated with pre-school children’s nutritional status. Better attention shall be given to preventive and curative measures of both undernutrition and intestinal parasites.
Key words: Intestinal parasites, pre-school children, nutritional status.
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