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Clean Water And Soap Can Help Improve Child Growth

August 5, 2013
Public Health

New research has found evidence that the provision of clean water and soap not only improves hygiene but can also lead to improvements in growth of children under five. Researchers identified 14 studies conducted worldwide that provided data on the physical development of 9,469 children. Results showed that improvements in water quality and the provision of soap produced an average 0.5cm increase in height. Dr Alan Dangour a public health nutritionist from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine explained the findings, saying; ?While there are some important shortcomings in the available evidence base, we estimate that clean drinking water and effective hand washing could reduce the prevalence of stunting in children under the age of five by up to 15%. This is potentially an extremely important finding, that identifies that improving access to water, sanitation and hygiene could be a key part of the tool kit to tackle the global burden of undernutrition.?

It is estimated that 165 million children worldwide are affected by poor height growth or stunting which studies have shown to significantly affect the risk of mortality. Barbara Frost Chief Executive of the Water Aid charity is convinced that the latest research will confirm what many scientists had been thinking; ?As well as resulting in hundreds of thousands of under-five deaths every year, there is a growing consensus that unsafe water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene can affect the body?s ability to absorb nutrients, impacting on child development?.

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