A Public Health Physician at the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, UITH, Dr Uthman Mubashir, has disclosed that water borne diseases could also cause stunted growth in children.
He said this while speaking with journalists in Ilorin, stressing that children infected even once with a certain type of water borne parasite are nearly three times as likely to suffer from moderate or severe stunted growth by the age of two, than those who were not affected.
The medical expert, while corroborating the new John Hopkins, Bloomberg School of Public Health Research, noted that infected children experience severe diarrhoea that is associated with the parasite. He explained that research in third world countries showed that children get infected with Cryptosporidium without necessarily having any symptom.
Mubashir said in spite of the lack of symptoms, children experience stunted growth in the first two years of life, leading to irreversible damage and contributing to poor cognitive development. “It could also lead to poor educational performance and reduced earning potential in adulthood, trapping individuals in a lifetime of poverty. Worldwide, an estimated 178 million children under five suffer from stunted growth, primarily in lower-income countries,” Mubashir said.
He attributed the spread of Cryptosporidium to lack of access to clean drinking water and proper toilet facilities.
According to him, it is resistant to chlorine, which is often used to clean water. While the physician said that diarrhoea is not only the resultant effect from Cryptosporidium, he noted the dehydration and malnutrition could also lead to stunted growth.
He explained that while diarrhoea was certainly a problem, “infection with the parasite itself even if there are no diarrheal symptoms causes malnutrition. These children don’t even get sick and their growth is stunted. The parasite damages the gut at this early age, making absorption of vital nutrients more difficult.”

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