Contributions of ascariasis to poor nutritional status in children from Chiriqui Province, Republic of Panama

D. L. Taren, M. C. Nesheim, Irma Barbeau, Diva Sanjur, Jean Tiffany, Katherine Tucker, D. W.T. Crompton, Celia V. Holland, Gloria Rivera

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Relationships between ascariasis and lactose digestion and between ascariasis and food transit time from mouth to caecum were investigated in young children from Chiriqui Province, Republic of Panama. The breath hydrogen method was used in both studies. A scaris-infected children showed a significantly poorer degree of lactose digestion following a test oral load than uninfected children. Recovery of the capacity of the children to digest lactose was still not fully complete for at least 3 weeks following anthelmintic treatment. On average, the mouth-to-caecum transit time was similar in infected and uninfected children, but among the Ascaris-infected children the transit time tended to be shorter in relation to the intensity of infection. Evidence from a cross-sectional survey indicated that ascariasis was significantly associated with reduced plasma vitamin A and carotenoid concentrations. This relationship remained after controlling for a range of socio-economic variables. Ascaris-infected children were frequently found to have lower haematocrits and blood haemoglobin concentrations than uninfected children, but these relationships could not be attributed to ascariasis alone.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)603-613
Number of pages11
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 1987

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Infectious Diseases


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