272- Soil-Transmitted Helminths in Southwestern China: Links to Cognitive Ability, Nutrition, and School Performance among Children
Empirical evidence suggests that the prevalence of soil-transmitted helminth (STH) infections in remote and poor rural areas is still high among children, the most vulnerable to infection. There is concern that STH infections may detrimentally affect children’s healthy development, including their cognitive ability, nutritional status, and school performance. Medical studies have not yet identified the exact nature of the impact STH infections have on children. The objective of this study is to examine the relationship between STH infections and developmental outcomes in 2,180 school-aged children in seven nationally-designated poverty counties in rural China. We conducted a large-scale survey in Guizhou province in southwest China in May, 2013. Overall, 42 percent of elementary school-aged children were infected with one or more of the three types of STH—Ascarislumbricoides (ascaris), Trichuris trichuria (whipworm) and the hookworms Ancylostoma duodenaleor Necator americanus. After controlling for socioeconomic status, we observed that children infected with one or more STHs have worse cognitive ability, worse nutritional status, and worse school performance than their uninfected peers.