A geospatial approach to identifying causes of childhood diarrhea in West Africa

September 18, 2018, The City University of New York
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Diarrhea is a leading cause of malnutrition in young children and is globally the second leading cause of death among post-neonatal children under five. A quarter of all global cases occur in Africa, with particularly high burden countries in West Africa. This disparity led Drs. Gillian Dunn, of Hawaii Pacific University, and Glen Johnson of CUNY SPH, to identify where specific geo-spatial clusters of childhood diarrhea exist in West Africa, and to identify household and climatic factors that are associated with such clusters.

This research, which grew out of Dr. Dunn's dissertation as a DPH student at CUNY SPH, was recently published in the journal Spatial and Spatiotemporal Epidemiology.

Using data from the USAID Demographic and Health Surveys, the authors applied a spatial scan statistic algorithm to identify locations with statistically elevated risk, relative to the rest of the region; and further to identify household and climatic factors that are associated with such clusters.

The results support existing evidence on the importance of factors such as household wealth to , but also introduce new evidence on the role of factors such as urbanicity and rainfall in West Africa. Furthermore, after controlling for household and , 23 statistically significant clusters of elevated risk (up to seven times the risk of the surrounding area) were detected.

Dr. Dunn, who has personally visited many of these high-risk areas in Western Africa, says special attention should be paid to these areas in order to protect child health.

Explore further: Parents who had severe trauma, stresses in childhood more likely to have kids with behavioral health problems

More information: Gillian Dunn et al. The geo-spatial distribution of childhood diarrheal disease in West Africa, 2008–2013: A covariate-adjusted cluster analysis, Spatial and Spatio-temporal Epidemiology (2018). DOI: 10.1016/j.sste.2018.06.005

Related Stories

Parents who had severe trauma, stresses in childhood more likely to have kids with behavioral health problems

July 9, 2018
A new study finds that severe childhood trauma and stresses early in parents' lives are linked to higher rates of behavioral health problems in their own children.

Researchers map cardiovascular disease risk across India

June 19, 2018
The average 10-year risk of developing cardiovascular disease varies widely among India's states, ranging from 13.2% to 19.5%, with substantial variation across socio-demographic groups according to a study published this ...

Shared sanitation facilities and risk of diarrhea in children

May 3, 2016
Sharing a sanitation facility between households can be linked to increased risk of moderate-to-severe diarrhea (MSD) in children under 5 y at some sites, according to Global Enteric Multicenter Study (GEMS) study findings ...

Study identifies geographic clusters of underimmunization in Northern California

January 19, 2015
Researchers used spatial analysis software and electronic medical records to identify clusters of underimmunization and vaccine refusal among Kaiser Permanente members in Northern California, according to a study published ...

Recommended for you

PET scans to optimize tuberculosis meningitis treatments and personalize care, study finds

December 6, 2018
Although relatively rare in the United States, and accounting for fewer than 5 percent of tuberculosis cases worldwide, TB of the brain—or tuberculosis meningitis (TBM)—is often deadly, always hard to treat, and a particular ...

Silicosis is on the rise, but is there a therapeutic target?

December 6, 2018
Researchers from the CNRS, the University of Orléans, and the company Artimmune, in collaboration with Turkish clinicians from Atatürk University, have identified a key mechanism of lung inflammation induced by silica exposure, ...

Infectivity of different HIV-1 strains may depend on which cell receptors they target

December 6, 2018
Distinct HIV-1 strains may differ in the nature of the CCR5 molecules to which they bind, affecting which cells they can infect and their ability to enter cells, according to a study published December 6 in the open-access ...

Protecting cell powerhouse paves way to better treatment of acute kidney injury

December 6, 2018
For the first time, scientists have described the body's natural mechanism for temporarily protecting the powerhouses of kidney cells when injury or disease means they aren't getting enough blood or oxygen.

New study uncovers why Rift Valley fever is catastrophic to developing fetuses

December 5, 2018
Like Zika, infection with Rift Valley fever virus can go unnoticed during pregnancy, all the while doing irreparable—often lethal—harm to the fetus. The results of a new study, led by researchers at the University of ...

Study highlights potential role of bioaerosol sampling to address airborne biological threats

December 5, 2018
As a leading global city with a high population density, Singapore is vulnerable to the introduction of biological threats. Initiating an early emergency response to such threats calls for the rapid identification of the ...


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.