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Open Access Research article

Role of the employment status and education of mothers in the prevalence of intestinal parasitic infections in Mexican rural schoolchildren

Luis Quihui1*, Mauro E Valencia1, David WT Crompton2, Stephen Phillips2, Paul Hagan2, Gloria Morales1 and Silvia P Díaz-Camacho3

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Human Nutrition. Centro de Investigación en Alimentación y Desarrollo, A.C. Hermosillo, Sonora, México

2 Institute of Biomedical and Life Sciences. Division of Infection and Immunity. University of Glasgow. Scotland, UK

3 Department of Public Health. Universidad Autonoma de Sinaloa. Culiacán Sinaloa, México

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BMC Public Health 2006, 6:225  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-6-225

Published: 6 September 2006

Abstract

Background

Intestinal parasitic infections are a public health problem in developing countries such as Mexico. As a result, two governmental programmes have been implemented: a) "National Deworming Campaign" and b) "Opportunities" aimed at maternal care. However, both programmes are developed separately and their impact is still unknown. We independently investigated whether a variety of socio-economic factors, including maternal education and employment levels, were associated with intestinal parasite infection in rural school children.

Methods

This cross-sectional study was conducted in 12 rural communities in two Mexican states. The study sites and populations were selected on the basis of the following traits: a) presence of activities by the national administration of albendazole, b) high rates of intestinal parasitism, c) little access to medical examination, and d) a population having less than 2,500 inhabitants. A total of 507 schoolchildren (mean age 8.2 years) were recruited and 1,521 stool samples collected (3 per child). Socio-economic information was obtained by an oral questionnaire. Regression modelling was used to determine the association of socio-economic indicators and intestinal parasitism.

Results

More than half of the schoolchildren showed poliparasitism (52%) and protozoan infections (65%). The prevalence of helminth infections was higher in children from Oaxaca (53%) than in those from Sinaloa (33%) (p < 0.0001). Giardia duodenalis and Hymenolepis nana showed a high prevalence in both states. Ascaris lumbricoides, Trichuris trichiura and Entamoeba hystolitica/dispar showed low prevalence. Children from lower-income families and with unemployed and less educated mothers showed higher risk of intestinal parasitism (odds ratio (OR) 6.0, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.6–22.6; OR 4.5, 95% CI 2.5–8.2; OR 3.3, 95% CI 1.5–7.4 respectively). Defecation in open areas was also a high risk factor for infection (OR 2.4, 95% CI 2.0–3.0).

Conclusion

Intestinal parasitism remains an important public health problem in Sinaloa (north-western Mexico) and Oaxaca (south-eastern Mexico). Lower income, defecation in open areas, employment status and a lower education level of mothers were the significant factors related to these infections. We conclude that mothers should be involved in health initiatives to control intestinal parasitism in Mexico.