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Associations between selective attention and soil-transmitted helminth infections, socioeconomic status, and physical fitness in disadvantaged children in Port Elizabeth, South Africa : an observational study

Gall, Stefanie and Müller, Ivan and Walter, Cheryl and Seelig, Harald and Steenkamp, Liana and Pühse, Uwe and du Randt, Rosa and Smith, Danielle and Adams, Larissa and Nqweniso, Siphesihle and Yap, Peiling and Ludyga, Sebastian and Steinmann, Peter and Utzinger, Jürg and Gerber, Markus. (2017) Associations between selective attention and soil-transmitted helminth infections, socioeconomic status, and physical fitness in disadvantaged children in Port Elizabeth, South Africa : an observational study. PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, 11 (5). e0005573.

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Abstract

Socioeconomically deprived children are at increased risk of ill-health associated with sedentary behavior, malnutrition, and helminth infection. The resulting reduced physical fitness, growth retardation, and impaired cognitive abilities may impede children's capacity to pay attention. The present study examines how socioeconomic status (SES), parasitic worm infections, stunting, food insecurity, and physical fitness are associated with selective attention and academic achievement in school-aged children.; The study cohort included 835 children, aged 8-12 years, from eight primary schools in socioeconomically disadvantaged neighborhoods of Port Elizabeth, South Africa. The d2-test was utilized to assess selective attention. This is a paper and pencil letter-cancellation test consisting of randomly mixed letters d and p with one to four single and/or double quotation marks either over and/or under each letter. Children were invited to mark only the letters d that have double quotation marks. Cardiorespiratory fitness was assessed via the 20 m shuttle run test and muscle strength using the grip strength test. The Kato-Katz thick smear technique was employed to detect helminth eggs in stool samples. SES and food insecurity were determined with a pre-tested questionnaire, while end of year school results were used as an indicator of academic achievement.; Children infected with soil-transmitted helminths had lower selective attention, lower school grades (academic achievement scores), and lower grip strength (all p<0.05). In a multiple regression model, low selective attention was associated with soil-transmitted helminth infection (p<0.05) and low shuttle run performance (p<0.001), whereas higher academic achievement was observed in children without soil-transmitted helminth infection (p<0.001) and with higher shuttle run performance (p<0.05).; Soil-transmitted helminth infections and low physical fitness appear to hamper children's capacity to pay attention and thereby impede their academic performance. Poor academic achievement will make it difficult for children to realize their full potential, perpetuating a vicious cycle of poverty and poor health.; ClinicalTrials.gov ISRCTN68411960.
Faculties and Departments:09 Associated Institutions > Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH)
09 Associated Institutions > Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH) > Department of Epidemiology and Public Health (EPH) > Eco System Health Sciences > Health Impact Assessment (Utzinger)
UniBasel Contributors:Müller, Ivan and Steinmann, Peter and Utzinger, Jürg
Item Type:Article, refereed
Publisher:Public Library of Science
ISSN:1935-2727
e-ISSN:1935-2735
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
Language:English
Identification Number:
Last Modified:14 Jun 2017 14:21
Deposited On:14 Jun 2017 14:21

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