Intestinal parasites, growth and physical fitness of schoolchildren in poor neighbourhoods of Port Elizabeth, South Africa: a cross-sectional survey

Müller, Ivan and Yap, Peiling and Steinmann, Peter and Damons, Bruce P. and Schindler, Christian and Seelig, Harald and Htun, Nan S. N. and Probst-Hensch, Nicole and Gerber, Markus and du Randt, Rosa and Pühse, Uwe and Walter, Cheryl and Utzinger, Jürg. (2016) Intestinal parasites, growth and physical fitness of schoolchildren in poor neighbourhoods of Port Elizabeth, South Africa: a cross-sectional survey. Parasites and Vectors, 9 (1). p. 488.

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BACKGROUND: As traditional lifestyle and diets change with social and economic development, disadvantaged communities in low- and middle-income countries increasingly face a double burden of communicable and non-communicable diseases. We studied the relationship between physical fitness and infections with soil-transmitted helminths (STHs), intestinal protozoa and Helicobacter pylori among schoolchildren in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.
METHODS: We conducted a cross-sectional survey among 1009 children, aged 9 to 12 years, from eight primary schools in socioeconomically disadvantaged neighbourhoods of Port Elizabeth. Physical fitness was determined using field-deployable tests of the Eurofit fitness test battery. Stool samples were analysed with the Kato-Katz thick smear technique to diagnose STHs and with rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) to detect intestinal protozoa and H. pylori infections. Haemoglobin (Hb) levels were assessed and anthropometric indicators determined.
RESULTS: Complete data were available for 934 children (92 %). In two schools, high STH prevalences were found (Ascaris lumbricoides 60 and 72 %; Trichuris trichiura 65 % each). For boys and girls co-infected with A. lumbricoides and T. trichiura (n = 155) the maximal oxygen uptake (VO2 max) was estimated to be 50.1 and 47.2 ml kg(-1) min(-1), compared to 51.5 and 47.4 ml kg(-1) min(-1) for their non-infected peers (n = 278), respectively. On average, children without helminth infections had greater body mass (P = 0.011), height (P = 0.009) and a higher body mass index (P = 0.024) and were less often stunted (P = 0.006), but not significantly less wasted compared to their peers with a single or dual species infection. Among 9-year-old boys, a negative correlation between helminth infections and VO2 max, grip strength and standing broad jump distance was observed (P = 0.038). The overall mean Hb level was 122.2 g l(-1). In the two schools with the highest prevalence of STHs the Hb means were 119.7 and 120.5 g l(-1), respectively.
CONCLUSIONS: Intestinal parasite infections appear to have a small but significant negative effect on the physical fitness of infected children, as expressed by their maximal oxygen uptake. We observed a clear impact on anthropometric indicators.
Faculties and Departments:03 Faculty of Medicine > Departement Sport, Bewegung und Gesundheit > Bereich Sportwissenschaft > Sportwissenschaften (Pühse)
UniBasel Contributors:Seelig, Harald and Yap, Peiling and Steinmann, Peter and Schindler, Christian and Probst Hensch, Nicole and Utzinger, Jürg
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Publisher:BioMed Central
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
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Last Modified:11 Sep 2018 17:12
Deposited On:15 Nov 2016 15:16

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