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Reported care giver strategies for improving drinking water for young children

Abstract

Objectives Care givers may engage in a variety of strategies to try and improve drinking water for children. However, the pattern of these efforts is not well known, particularly for young children in high-risk situations. The objective of this study was to determine care giver-reported strategies for young children with (1) undernutrition and (2) living in an unplanned poor peri-urban community in the Dominican Republic.

Methods Practices reported by care givers of young children from a community and clinic group were extracted from interviews conducted between 2004 and 2008 (n = 563). These results were compared to two previous similar samples interviewed in 1997 (n = 341).

Results Bottled water is currently the most prevalent reported strategy for improving drinking water for young children. Its use increased from 6% to 69% in the community samples over the last decade and from 13% to 79% in the clinic samples. Boiling water continues to be a common strategy, particularly for the youngest children, though its overall use has decreased over time. Household-level chlorination is infrequently used and has dropped over time.

Conclusions Care givers are increasingly turning to bottled water in an attempt to provide safe drinking water for their children. While this may represent a positive trend for protecting children from water-transmitted diseases, it may represent an inefficient approach to safe drinking water provision that may place a financial burden on low-income families.

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