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Randomized intervention study of solar disinfection of drinking water in the prevention of dysentery in Kenyan children aged under 5 years

We report the results of a randomized controlled intervention study (September 2007 to March 2009) investigating the effect of solar disinfection (SODIS) of drinking water on the incidence of dysentery, nondysentery diarrhea, and anthropometric measurements of height and weight among children of age 6 months to 5 years living in peri-urban and rural communities in Nakuru, Kenya. We compared 555 children in 404 households using SODIS with 534 children in 361 households with no intervention. Dysentery was recorded using a pictorial diary. Incidence rate ratios (IRR) for both number of days and episodes of dysentery and nondysentery diarrhea were significantly (P < 0.001) reduced by use of solar disinfection: dysentery days IRR = 0.56 (95% CI 0.40 to 0.79); dysentery episodes IRR = 0.55 (95% CI 0.42 to 0.73); nondysentery days IRR = 0.70 (95% CI 0.59 to 0.84); nondysentery episodes IRR = 0.73 (95% CI 0.63 to 0.84). Anthropometry measurements of weight and height showed median height-for-age was significantly increased in those on SODIS, corresponding to an average of 0.8 cm over a 1-year period over the group as a whole (95% CI 0.7 to 1.6 cm, P = 0.031). Median weight-for-age was higher in those on SODIS, corresponding to a 0.23 kg difference in weight over the same period; however, the confidence interval spanned zero and the effect fell short of statistical significance (95% CI -0.02 to 0.47 kg, P = 0.068). SODIS and control households did not differ in the microbial quality of their untreated household water over the follow-up period (P = 0.119), but E. coli concentrations in SODIS bottles were significantly lower than those in storage containers over all follow-up visits (P < 0.001). This is the first trial to show evidence of the effect of SODIS on childhood anthropometry, compared with children in the control group and should alleviate concerns expressed by some commentators that the lower rates of dysentery associated with SODIS are the product of biased reporting rather than reflective of genuinely decreased incidence. Environmental Science & Technology. 2011;45(21):9315-9323. Epub 2011 Oct 5.

Author: du Preez M, Conroy RM, Ligondo S, Hennessy J, Elmore-Meegan M, Soita A, McGuigan KG

Published: 05/10/2011

Publication Type: Journal article

Publisher: Environmental Science and Technology