Effects of giardiasis on school success, weight and height indices of primary school children in Turkey
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Background: Giardia intestinalis, the most common parasite in the world, causes several adverse effects on school children, with the prevalence rate ranging between 7.3% and 28% (mean 13.8%) in Turkey. The aim of the present study was to investigate possible adverse effects of G. intestinalis on success at school, and the mean weight and height of primary school children in Sivas, Turkey. Methods: Five primary schools from central Sivas, Turkey, had a number of students from different socioeconomic conditions and regions. The stool specimens were examined by light microscopy for giardiasis using saline-Lugol and/or zinc sulfate flotation method. Three groups in the present study include the symptomatic giardiasis group (SG), which included children with giardiasis along with abdominal pain and/or diarrhea, the asymptomatic giardiasis group (ASG) without any symptom and the non-parasitic (NPG) group without any parasites. Results: While 599 (34.6%) out of 1730 children were parasitic, 192 (11.1%) had only G. intestinalis. Ninety-eight (5.7%) of 192 were SG (with diarrhea and/or abdominal pain and 94 (5.4%) were ASG. The weights and heights were lower in the children with giardiasis than the children without any parasite. There was a significant difference between the giardiasis group and NPG when the numbers of persons living in the house were compared. While there were no significant difference between the giardiasis group and NPG when the sexes were compared, success at school and economical levels were found to be significantly different between these groups. Conclusion: There was a higher prevalence of giardiasis in primary school children and their physical and mental conditions were affected adversely. Giardia infections in particular have adverse effects on success at school.