Document Type



Centre of Excellence in Women and Child Health


Diarrheal disease remains a major cause of childhood mortality and morbidity causing poor health and economic outcomes. In low-resource settings, young children are exposed to numerous risk factors for enteric pathogen transmission within their dwellings, though the relative importance of different transmission pathways varies by pathogen species. The objective of this analysis was to model associations between five household-level risk factors-water, sanitation, flooring, caregiver education, and crowding-and infection status for endemic enteric pathogens in children in five surveillance studies. Data were combined from 22 sites in which a total of 58,000 stool samples were tested for 16 specific enteropathogens using qPCR. Risk ratios for pathogen- and taxon-specific infection status were modeled using generalized linear models along with hazard ratios for all-cause diarrhea in proportional hazard models, with the five household-level variables as primary exposures adjusting for covariates. Improved drinking water sources conferred a 17% reduction in diarrhea risk; however, the direction of its association with particular pathogens was inconsistent. Improved sanitation was associated with a 9% reduction in diarrhea risk with protective effects across pathogen species and taxa of around 10-20% risk reduction. A 9% reduction in diarrhea risk was observed in subjects with covered floors, which were also associated with decreases in risk for zoonotic enteropathogens. Caregiver education and household crowding showed more modest, inconclusive results. Combining data from diverse sites, this analysis quantified associations between five household-level exposures on risk of specific enteric infections, effects which differed by pathogen species but were broadly consistent with hypothesized transmission mechanisms. Such estimates may be used within expanded water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) programs to target interventions to the particular pathogen profiles of individual communities and prioritize resources.


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Publication (Name of Journal)

International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.