Risk factors for childhood enteric infection in urban Maputo, Mozambique: A cross-sectional study

by Jackie Knee, Trent Sumner, Zaida Adriano, David Berendes, Ellen de Bruijn, Wolf-Peter Schmidt, Rassul Nalá, Oliver Cumming, Joe Brown


Enteric infections are common where public health infrastructure is lacking. This study assesses risk factors for a range of enteric infections among children living in low-income, unplanned communities of urban Maputo, Mozambique.

Methods & findings

We conducted a cross-sectional survey in 17 neighborhoods of Maputo to assess the prevalence of reported diarrheal illness and laboratory-confirmed enteric infections in children. We collected stool from children aged 1–48 months, independent of reported symptoms, for molecular detection of 15 common enteric pathogens by multiplex RT-PCR. We also collected survey and observational data related to water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) characteristics; other environmental factors; and social, economic, and demographic covariates.We analyzed stool from 759 children living in 425 household clusters (compounds) representing a range of environmental conditions. We detected ≥1 enteric pathogens in stool from most children (86%, 95% confidence interval (CI): 84–89%) though diarrheal symptoms were only reported for 16% (95% CI: 13–19%) of children with enteric infections and 13% (95% CI: 11–15%) of all children. Prevalence of any enteric infection was positively associated with age and ranged from 71% (95% CI: 64–77%) in children 1–11 months to 96% (95% CI: 93–98%) in children 24–48 months. We found poor sanitary conditions, such as presence of feces or soiled diapers around the compound, to be associated with higher risk of protozoan infections. Certain latrine features, including drop-hole covers and latrine walls, and presence of a water tap on the compound grounds were associated with a lower risk of bacterial and protozoan infections. Any breastfeeding was also associated with reduced risk of infection.


We found a high prevalence of enteric infections, primarily among children without diarrhea, and weak associations between bacterial and protozoan infections and environmental risk factors including WASH. Findings suggest that environmental health interventions to limit infections would need to be transformative given the high prevalence of enteric pathogen shedding and poor sanitary conditions observed.

Trial registration

ClinicalTrials.gov NCT02362932

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