Is Exposure to Animal Feces Harmful to Child Nutrition and Health Outcomes? A Multicountry Observational Analysis
This study investigates whether exposure to livestock constitutes a significant risk factor for diarrhea and environmental enteric disorder in young children. Authors use data from the Alive and Thrive study conducted in rural areas of Ethiopia, Bangladesh, and Vietnam. The surveys used spot-checks to collect data on proxies of hygiene behaviors such as the cleanliness of mothers, young children, and the homestead environment, including the presence of animal feces, which were visible in 38– 42% of household compounds and negatively associated with maternal and child cleanliness. Findings suggest that the presence of animal feces is significantly and negatively associated with child height-for-age z scores in and Ethiopia and Bangladesh but not Vietnam. There is suggestive evidence that animal feces are positively associated with diarrhea symptoms in Bangladesh. Overall, results suggest that animal ownership may pose a significant risk to child nutrition and health outcomes in developing countries.