ASCARIS LUMBRICOIDES: THE RISK FACTORS AND EFFECTS ON GROWTH OF SCHOOLCHILDREN WITHIN SAMARU, ZARIA, NIGERIA
Intestinal helminthiasis affects children’s health and physical growth. Finding the prevalence of Ascaris lumbricoides, risk factors and effects on growth of children in Samaru, Zaria were the foci of this study. Fresh faecal samples were collected from 203 consented children in seven selected schools. Weight and height data were measured and body mass index was calculated for each child. Samples were processed by formol-ether concentration technique and examined for ova of Ascaris lumbricoides with light microscope. Data were analyzed by statistical tools. Overall prevalence of Ascaris lumbricoides was 2.0%. The infection was absent in children from private schools, but those from public schools were significantly infected (P=0.042, OR >1). Male children were more infected (2.1%) than females (1.9%). Children below 10 years old had no ascariasis, while children of 10-11 and 12-13 years old had 2.5% and 2.9% infections respectively. Children who eat raw vegetables (OR =1.021) or work on farms (OR =2.636) were more at risk of ascariasis. No sign/symptom was associated with ascariasis. Ascaris lumbricoides was present only in children whose body weights were ≤38.0kg with significantly low body mass index of <18.50 (OR >1). Ascariasis is preventable given proper environmental sanitation, safe water and adequate sanitary facilities.