Environmental Enteric Dysfunction and Child Stunting

February 2019

In 2017, an estimated 1 in every 4 (23 per cent) children aged < 5 years were stunted worldwide. With slow progress in stunting reduction in many regions and the realisation that a large proportion of stunting is not due to insufficient diet or diarrhoea alone, it remains that other factors must explain continued growth faltering. Environmental enteric dysfunction (EED), a subclinical state of intestinal inflammation, can occur in infants across the developing world and is proposed as an immediate causal factor connecting poor sanitation and stunting. A result of chronic pathogen exposure, EED presents multiple causal pathways, and as such the scope and sensitivity of traditional water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) interventions have possibly been unsubstantial. Although the definite pathogenesis of EED and the mechanism by which stunting occurs are yet to be defined, this paper reviews the existing literature surrounding the proposed pathology and transmission of EED in infants and considerations for nutrition and WASH interventions to improve linear growth worldwide.

Additional details

PublisherNutrition Reviews
ThemesChildren, Health, Hygiene, Sanitation and health impacts

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