Natural History of Cryptosporidiosis in a Longitudinal Study of Slum-Dwelling Bangladeshi Children

Association with Severe Malnutrition

Citation: Korpe PS, Haque R, Gilchrist C, Valencia C, Niu F, Lu M, et al. (2016) Natural History of Cryptosporidiosis in a Longitudinal Study of Slum-Dwelling Bangladeshi Children: Association with Severe Malnutrition. PLoS Negl Trop Dis 10(5): e0004564. doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0004564
Published: May 4, 2016

Background: Cryptosporidiosis is a common cause of infectious diarrhea in young children worldwide, and is a significant contributor to under-five mortality. Current treatment options are limited in young children. In this study, we describe the natural history of Cryptosporidium spp. infection in a birth cohort of children in Bangladesh and evaluate for association with malnutrition.
Methodology/Principal Findings: This is a longitudinal birth cohort study of 392 slum-dwelling Bangladeshi children followed over the first two years of life from 2008 to 2014. Children were monitored for diarrheal disease, and stool was tested for intestinal protozoa. Anthropometric measurements were taken at 3-month intervals. A subset of Cryptosporidium positive stools were genotyped for species and revealed that C. hominis was isolated from over 90% of samples. In the first two years of life, 77% of children experienced at least one infection with Cryptosporidium spp. Non-diarrheal infection (67%) was more common than diarrheal infection (6.3%) although 27% of children had both types of infection. Extreme poverty was associated with higher rates of infection (chi-square, 49.7% vs 33.3%, p = 0.006). Malnutrition was common in this cohort, 56% of children had stunted growth by age two. Children with Cryptosporidium spp. infection had a greater than 2-fold increased risk of severe stunting at age two compared to uninfected children (odds ratio 2.69, 95% CI 1.17, 6.15, p = 0.019) independent of sex, income, maternal body-mass index, maternal education and weight for age adjusted z (WAZ) score at birth.
Conclusions/Significance: Cryptosporidium infection is common (77%) in this cohort of slum-dwelling Bangladeshi children, and both non-diarrheal and diarrheal infections are significantly associated with a child’s growth at 2 years of age.

Author Summary: Diarrheal disease is a leading cause of death in young children worldwide. Cryptosporidium species are responsible for a large proportion of global burden of diarrhea. This study describes the natural history of cryptosporidiosis in a birth cohort of impoverished Bangladeshi children. Children were enrolled at birth and monitored for diarrhea twice a week for two years. Stool samples were tested for enteric protozoa. Children in this cohort had significant rates of malnutrition compared to the W.H.O. reference population, and extreme poverty was common. A majority of children were infected with Cryptosporidium spp, and we found that children who had at least one infection with Cryptosporidium spp during the two year follow up period were significantly more likely to have growth faltering by age 24 months. Cryptosporidiosis is a common infection in this cohort, and is associated with poverty and reduced growth during the first two years of life.


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