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BMC Public Health

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BACKGROUND: Undernutrition is a major public health problem on the globe particularly in the developing regions. The objective of the current study was to assess the prevalence of undernutrition in different age groups and examine the relationship of the disease to parasitic and socioeconomic factors among communities in Harbu Town, northeastern Ethiopia.

METHODS: Stool samples of the study participants were examined for intestinal helminth infections using the Kato-Katz method. Blood specimens were diagnosed for Plasmodium infection using CareStartTM Malaria Pf/Pv Combo test. The blood type was determined from blood samples using antisera A and antisera B. In addition, the height and weight of the study participants was measured and information about their socioeconomic and sociodemographic characteristics was collected.

RESULTS: Out of 484 individuals examined, 31.8% were undernourished and 32.0% were infected with intestinal helminths. The odds of undernutrition significantly decreased with an increase in the age of individuals. The prevalence of undernutrition in adults was significantly higher in males than in females and in those who had latrines than in those who did not have the facility. The odds of undernutrition in the 5 to 19 years age group was significantly higher in those who did not wash their hands before eating than in those who did. The prevalence of undernutrition in children younger than five years was significantly lower in those whose families were educated and had less than 5 family size compared to those with illiterate families and family size of greater than 5, respectively. However, the prevalence of undernutrition was similar in individuals who were infected and not infected with intestinal helminths. The intensity of Schistosoma mansoni infection was significantly higher among individuals of blood type A compared to those of type O.

CONCLUSIONS: Prevalence of undernutrition was higher in children than in adults and the association of sex and socioeconomic factors with undernutrition showed variation with age. However, helminth infection was not related with undernutrition in all age groups.



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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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