Absence of a relationship between malnutrition and trachoma in preschool children

David Fine, Sheila West

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: To determine if there is an association between malnutrition and clinical trachoma among children in a trachoma endemic region of Tanzania. Methods: 189 children age one to five were examined by a trained eye nurse for the presence of active trachoma, using the WHO simplified grading scheme. One examiner also measured the arm circumference of the mid-aspect of the upper left arm on the same children. Trachoma was defined as the presence of follicular trachoma (TF) and/or severe trachoma (TI). Malnutrition was defined two ways: a mid-arm circumference of less than 12.5 cm, and a value one standard deviation below the age-specific mean. Results: Overall, 57% of children had trachoma, and 9% had severe trachoma. The percentage of children with arm circumference below 12.5 cm varied with age from 96% in the one-year-olds to 35% in the six-year-olds. Using either method of classifying malnutrition, there was no association with trachoma, nor with severe trachoma. Conclusion: Trachoma and malnutrition are both common in this sample of children, although no relationship between the two was observed. Further work on the nutritional status in those with subclinical infection may be warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)83-88
Number of pages6
JournalOphthalmic Epidemiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1997


  • Africa
  • Chlamydia
  • Immune response
  • Malnutrition
  • Pre-school children
  • Trachoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Ophthalmology


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