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RMJ. 2009; 34(2): 199-202

Is there a link between maternal illiteracy and childhood diarrhea?

Rehman Inayat Shukr, Salman Ali, Tahira Khanum, Tahir Mehmood.

To assess the association between maternal illiteracy and frequency of childhood diarrhea.
Subjects and Methods
This cross sectional study was carried out at Department of Pediatric of Combined Military
Hospital Multan from September 1, 2008 to May 1, 2009. A total of 200 mothers were
interviewed regarding frequency of diarrhea in their child between 1-2 years of age over past
one year. One hundred children belonged to breastfed group and 100 to bottle fed group. All
mothers lived in houses with piped water supply, filtered drinking water in immediate
neighborhood and latrines inside the house. Husbands educational status varied between
matriculate to intermediate and earning between Pak Rs 7000-9000/month. Dependent
variable diarrhea was analyzed for both groups of children after stratifying mothers education
into 4 categories nil to class 3, class 4 to 9, matric and intermediate to graduate. Frequency of
diarrhea was recoded for last one year and diarrhea morbidity was calculated on a scale of
For breast fed group the frequency of diarrhea annually varied from 0.41 for highly educated
mothers (intermediate to graduate) to 2.182 for uneducated mothers (p=0.001). For
morbidity, the difference was even more striking and varied from 0.42 to 4.04 (p=0.001). The
difference between diarrhea frequency and morbidity was also striking for the bottle-fed
group, being 0.78 to 2.54 for annual frequency and 1 to 3.69 for morbidity for high to no
education respectively.
Frequency and morbidity of diarrhea was more in less educated mothers. This suggests that
one of the interventions aiming to reduce diarrhea should be to improve maternal education
status. (Rawal Med J 2009;34: ).

Key words: Infantile diarrhea, maternal education, breastfeeding.

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