Keeping animals such as poultry, which can be disease carriers, free range in the home can contribute to childhood diseases that exacerbate malnutrition.
Photo: shutterstock/Ilyas Kalimulin


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Childhood malnutrition remains highly prevalent in low-income countries To find out whether unhygienic environments also contribute to growth failure, researchers analysed growth data of children living in a Gambian village. They concluded that those whose parents lived in better housing devoid of animals had better health.

Keeping animals out of the home may improve childhood nutrition and reduce instances of stunting, according to a study undertaken in a Gambian village.
The study analysed 230 children of Gambian staff living at the Medical Research Unit in rural Keneba between 1993 and 2009. The staff included scientists, physicians, laboratory technicians and support staff, such as cleaners. The population was chosen because of its diversity of wealth, education housing conditions and access to free health services.
“Not surprisingly, those with the lowest socio-economic scores had the shortest, most stunted children, and the gradient wasn’t as big as we’d expected,” says co-author Andrew Prentice, a professor of international nutrition at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. “The group at the top, however, had the widest variation.”
Half of children in this upper grouping lived in Western-style housing with running water and flushable toilets, and they kept animals out of the home.

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