Research shows children at risk from rural water supplies

August 24, 2012

University of East Anglia research shows children at risk from rural water supplies

drinking from around half the UK's private are almost five times more likely to pick up stomach infections – according to research from the University of (UEA).

Research published today in the journal shows children under 10 who drink from contaminated supplies are suffering around five bouts of sickness or diarrhoea a year.

This figure is similar to the rates of infection among children in the developing world.

Around 1 per cent of the UK population are served by private supplies – such as wells and . In Europe the number is as much as one in 10. And many more drink from such water supplies as visitors and while on holiday.

But half of all private water supplies in the UK do not meet regulations. And while water-borne bacteria does not appear to affect adults and older children, the under 10s are particularly at risk of picking up stomach infections.

Researchers investigated whether people drinking from contaminated supplies are more at risk than those drinking from supplies that comply with - and particularly whether children are more susceptible to disease.

They studied more than 600 consumers in Norfolk, Suffolk and Herefordshire for 12 weeks. Those surveyed kept a diary of symptoms including diarrhoea, vomiting, stomach pains, nausea, headache, and fever.

They also collected samples of drinking water from each household which were tested for the faecal bacteria E. coli, Coliform and Enterococci.

Prof Paul Hunter, from UEA's Norwich Medical School, said: "We found a particularly high incidence of diarrhoea in children under 10 in homes provided by water which was contaminated with bacteria. The results showed that these children would suffer almost five incidents a year – a risk of illness similar to that reported in developing countries.

"This is a serious concern. As well as children being more at risk, they also suffer the most from an episode of diarrhoea – with greater rates of hospitalization and higher mortality rates.

"It is very important that households reliant on private water supplies, where children under 10 live or visit, are identified and frequently tested for pollution. Our recommendation to parents is to either ensure adequate well-maintained treatment such as chlorination or filtration, or provide alternate sources such as drinking bottled water."

Explore further: Diarrhoea outbreak kills seven children in Zimbabwe

More information: doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0042762

Related Stories

Diarrhoea outbreak kills seven children in Zimbabwe

October 16, 2011
At least seven children have died from a suspected diarrhoea outbreak which has affected over 6,000 children in two towns in Zimbabwe over the past week, a state newspaper said Sunday.

Genetic discovery will help fight diarrhea outbreaks

June 13, 2012
Researchers at the University of East Anglia (UEA) have discovered unexpectedly large genetic differences between two similar species of the pathogenic Cryptosporidium parasite.

Tap water warning in Copenhagen after E.coli found

August 21, 2011
Parts of the Danish capital Copenhagen were without clean drinking water Saturday after high levels of the E.coli bacteria were detected in the municipal tap water system.

Recommended for you

To combat teen smoking, health experts recommend R ratings for movies that depict tobacco use

July 21, 2017
Public health experts have an unusual suggestion for reducing teen smoking: Give just about any movie that depicts tobacco use an automatic R rating.

Aging Americans enjoy longer life, better health when avoiding three risky behaviors

July 20, 2017
We've heard it before from our doctors and other health experts: Keep your weight down, don't smoke and cut back on the alcohol if you want to live longer.

Opioids and obesity, not 'despair deaths,' raising mortality rates for white Americans

July 20, 2017
Drug-related deaths among middle-aged white men increased more than 25-fold between 1980 and 2014, with the bulk of that spike occurring since the mid-1990s when addictive prescription opioids became broadly available, according ...

Parents have critical role in preventing teen drinking

July 20, 2017
Fewer teenagers are drinking alcohol but more needs to be done to curb the drinking habits of Australian school students, based on the findings of the latest study by Adelaide researchers.

Fresh fish oil lowers diabetes risk in rat offspring

July 19, 2017
Fresh fish oil given to overweight pregnant rats prevented their offspring from developing a major diabetes risk factor, Auckland researchers have found.

High-dose vitamin D doesn't appear to reduce the winter sniffles for children

July 18, 2017
Giving children high doses of vitamin D doesn't appear to reduce the winter sniffles, a new study has found.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.