Gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms such as abdominal discomfort, abdominal cramp, nausea, vomiting, gas in the GI tract, or changes in bowel habits (e.g., diarrhea) are common in the community. However, these symptoms may be misinterpreted and their impact and significance misunderstood, especially in the rural communities. This study was, therefore, conducted to assess common GI symptoms among children in rural Dembiya, northwest Ethiopia.
A community-based cross-sectional study was conducted in May 2017 among 225 randomly selected under five children. The presence of GI symptoms among children was assessed by health professionals and mothers’ report. Direct stool examination technique was used to identify parasitic infections. Bacteriological analysis of drinking water was done to determine the quality of drinking water. Food safety, environmental sanitation and hygiene condition of children were assessed using standardized observation checklists. Multivariable binary logistic regression analysis was employed to identify factors associated with GI symptoms on the basis of adjusted odds ratio (AOR) with 95% confidence interval (CI) and p < 0.05.
The current study depicted that 139 of 225(61.8%) of the children had GI symptoms. Abdominal discomfort [137 of 139(98.7%)], abdominal cramp [125 of 139(89.9%)] and diarrhea [118 of 139(84.9%)] were the highest GI symptoms reported. GI symptoms were significantly associated with childhood intestinal parasitic infections [AOR = 13.69, 95% CI = 3.31, 56.59)], unclipped and unclean finger nails [AOR = 2.28, 95% CI = (1.02, 5.10)], inadequate living environment sanitation [AOR = 2.37, 95% CI = (1.08, 5.18)], unclean living houses [AOR = 9.06, 95% CI = (2.60, 31.54)] and owning livestock [AOR = 4.68, 95% CI = (1.82, 12.03)].
The prevalence of GI symptoms among under five children in rural Dembiya, northwest Ethiopia was found to be high. GI symptoms were significantly associated with childhood intestinal parasitic infections, hand hygiene condition of children and sanitation condition of the living environment. Therefore, preventing intestinal parasitic infections, improving hand hygiene condition and promoting environmental sanitation will have overriding contributions to prevent symptoms among children in rural Dembiya.