International Journal of Microbiology

International Journal of Microbiology / 2021 / Article

Research Article | Open Access

Volume 2021 |Article ID 8868543 |

Harriet U. Ugboko, Obinna C. Nwinyi, Solomon U. Oranusi, Fasina F. Fagbeminiyi, "Risk Factors of Diarrhoea among Children Under Five Years in Southwest Nigeria", International Journal of Microbiology, vol. 2021, Article ID 8868543, 9 pages, 2021.

Risk Factors of Diarrhoea among Children Under Five Years in Southwest Nigeria

Academic Editor: Todd R. Callaway
Received11 Jul 2020
Revised04 Jan 2021
Accepted15 Feb 2021
Published26 Feb 2021


Diarrhoea is the passage of three or more loose or liquid stools per day or more frequent passage than is normal for an individual. Diarrhoea alters the microbiome, thus the immune system, and is a significant cause of morbidity and mortality in young children. This study evaluated the association between the risk factors and diarrhoea prevalence among children under five years in Lagos and Ogun States, located in Southwest Nigeria. Participants included 280 women aged 15–49 years and children aged 0–59 months. The study used quantitative data, which were assessed by a structured questionnaire. Data obtained were analyzed using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences Software Version 25.0 and Microsoft Excel 2013. The relationships and/or association between variables were evaluated using Pearson's Chi Square and logistic regression tests. One hundred and eighteen (42%) of the children were male, and 162 (58%) were female. The majority of the children belonged to the age group 0–11 months (166). Age () and gender () showed no significant association with diarrhoea among the children. The majority of the mothers belonged to the age group 30–34. Multivariate analysis showed that the mother's level of education (95% CI for OR = 11.45; ) and family income (95% CI for OR = 7.61, ) were the most significant risk factors for diarrhoea among children. Mother’s educational status, mother's employment, and family income were the factors significantly associated with diarrhoea in Southwest Nigeria. The study recommends that female education should be encouraged by the right government policy to enhance the achievement of the sustainable development goal three (SDG 3) for the possible reduction of neonates and infants' deaths in Nigeria.

1. Introduction

World Health Organisation defines diarrhoea as “the passage of three or more loose or liquid stools per day or more frequent passage than is normal for the individual” [1, 2]. Diarrhoeal disease is the second leading cause of death in children under five years old and is responsible for killing around 525 000 children every year [2]. Childhood diarrhoea affecting children five years old and below accounts for approximately 63% of diarrhoea burden [3, 4] and is the second significant cause of infant mortality in developing nations [2, 57], where poor sanitation and insufficient potable water are lacking [8, 9]. In Southwest Nigeria, diarrhoea is one of the three most prevalent water-related diseases, the others being typhoid fever and cholera [10, 11]. In Southwest Nigeria, most of the studies on childhood diarrhoea have focused on the molecular epidemiology of diarrhoeagenic agents [1215]. Several other studies have reported the antimicrobial activities of indigenous medicinal plants on diarrhoea-causing agents [1618]. However, there are insufficient reports on the associated risk factors of childhood diarrhoea in Southwest Nigeria [19, 20]. Therefore, this study aimed to determine the risk factors associated with diarrhoea prevalence among children under age 5 in Lagos and Ogun States, Nigeria.

2. Methods

2.1. Study Area

The study was carried out in Lagos state (6o52ʹ44ʺ N, 3.37ʹ92ʺ E) and Ogun state (6° 90ʹ 75ʺ N 3° 58ʹ 13ʺ E), located in Southwest Nigeria (Figure 1). In Southwest Nigeria, three tiers of health care services are practiced, which are the tertiary, secondary, and primary healthcare systems [21]. These hospitals provide subsidised health care services to the masses. Massey Street Children Hospital is a children's referral hospital owned by the Lagos State government [22]. Orile-Agege General Hospital has an excellent hospital-based record of paediatric cases and immunisation services. State Hospital Ota is proxy to the study centre. Federal Medical Centre Abeokuta is a federal government-owned hospital with high patronage and also serves as a referral hospital in Ogun state [23, 24].

The study was a cross-sectional case-control investigation involving four local government areas (LGAs) in Lagos and Ogun state, which were Lagos Island and Agege LGAs from Lagos state, Ado/Odo Ota, and Abeokuta South LGAs from Ogun state (Figure 1), respectively. Participants included a total of 280 children comprising 143 children with acute diarrhoea (cases) and 137 children who were not suffering from diarrhoea (controls) over 12 months. The diarrhoeic children were those that have been diagnosed by the medical personnel at the hospital for this study, and the control groups were children within the same age bracket that were not having diarrhoea and were attending the same healthcare facilities.

3. Eligibility Criteria for the Study Participants

3.1. Criteria for Nondiarrhoeic Group (Control)
3.1.1. Inclusion Criteria

Under five childrenNo acute diarrhoeaNot on any antimicrobial treatmentInformed written consent from the parents/guardians of children and assent from the subjects

3.1.2. Exclusion Criteria

Children whose parents did not consent

3.2. Criteria for Diarrhoeic Group (cases)
3.2.1. Inclusion Criteria

Under five childrenAcute diarrhoea (≥3 watery or loose stools with or without blood or mucus less than 14 days)Informed written consent from the parents/guardians of children and assent from the subjects

3.2.2. Exclusion Criteria

Children whose parents did not consent

3.3. Ethical Consideration

Participation was strictly voluntary. Parents/Caregivers received a thorough explanation of the aim, and objectives of the study were explained to the parents or caregivers. Each parent decided whether or not to participate or provide information about their children or wards. Participants were also enlightened about their freedom to withdraw in the course of the study without any consequences.

The ethical approval for this study was obtained from Covenant University Health Research Ethics Committee (CUHREC), Covenant University, Ota, Ogun State (CHREC/002/2018), Federal Medical Centre Research Ethics Committee (FMCREC), Idi-Aba, Abeokuta Ogun State (FMCA/243/HREC/03/2018/06), and Lagos State Health Service Commission (LSHSC/2222/VOL.1VB/232).

3.4. Questionnaire Survey

The authors developed a semistructured questionnaire. Mothers/caregivers responded through the assistance of hired research assistants. Communication was in English Language and local dialects where the respondents could not communicate effectively in the English Language. The questionnaires provided demographic, medical, nutritional, and environmental information about the children. Other information included the level of education and socioeconomic status of the mothers/caregivers.

3.5. Data Analysis

For quality control purposes, each completed questionnaire was proofed to avoid errors. The questionnaire data obtained were deposited in the SPSS Version 25 (IBM Corp., Armonk, NY, USA) program and Microsoft Excel 2013 for statistical analysis. Pearson's Chi square and t-test were used to determine the statistical significance in the relationships and or association between the dependent and independent variables. Comparisons were made between data derived from diarrhoeic and control subjects.

Logistic regression analysis was performed to assess the association of each predictor variable with the outcome variable. Measures of the relationship were expressed as crude odds ratios (CORs) for disease with 95% confidence intervals for variables.

Multivariable analysis was performed using all the significant variables obtained from the bivariate analysis. This provided the Adjusted Odds Ratios (AORs) at 95% confidence interval.

4. Results

Risk factors of diarrhoeal disease among children under five years of age in the study area.

The risk factors of the occurrence of diarrhoea among children below the age of five were categorised into three, namely: age and gender of the child, demographic and socioeconomic status of the mother, and medical history and environment of the child (Tables 16 ).

CharacteristicsDiarrhoea statusCOR (95% CI) value
Number (n)Percentage (%)Number (n)Percentage (%)

Age group (Months)0–116444.7610274.450.359(0.101–1.274)0.113

is significant; COR: crude odds ratios; CI: confidence interval.

CharacteristicsDiarrhoea statusCOR (95% CI) value
Number (n)Percentage (%)Number (n)Percentage (%)

Mother’s age (years)<304734.304531.700.888 (0.539–1.464)0.642
ReligionChristianity11685.297451.750.185 (0.104–0.329)<0.0001
Educational statusBelow tertiary2720.0010674.1311.459 (6.521–20.139)<0.0001
EmploymentUnemployed1712.593323.082.082 (1.098–3.950)0.025
Family income<100,0007061.4010992.377.613 (3.499–16.563)<0.0001
ResidenceDuplex53.6810.750.043 (0.004–0.413)0.006
4-bedroom75.1521.490.061 (0.011–0.345)0.002
3-bedroom1712.5085.970.101 (0.033–0.305)<0.0001
2-bedroom6547.791914.180.063 (0.026–0.151)<0.0001
Self-contained3324.266246.270.403 (0.175–0.928)0.033
Rooming house96.624231.341.00
Toilet facilityPit latrine53.682316.310.484 (0.084–2.783)0.416
Water closet12994.859970.210.081 (0.018–0.355)0.001

( is significant); COR: crude odds ratios; CI: confidence interval.

CharacteristicsControlsCasesCOR (95% CI) value
Number (n)Percentage (%)Number (n)Percentage (%)

Where was your child born?At home21.46117.691.375 (0.213–8.858)0.738
Hospital13195.6211681.120.221 (0.072–0.681)0.009
Traditional maternity centre42.921611.191.00
How was your child born?Caesarean section3424.822618.440.685 (0.385–1.218)0.198
Natural birth10375.1811581.561.00
Did you receive antenatal care?Yes13598.5410776.980.050 (0.012–0.211)<0.0001
Was baby breastfed?Yes137100.0014299.30
Was baby placed on exclusive?Yes10577.216546.100.253 (0.150–0.425)<0.0001
If no, how long was the baby breastfed?<6 Months1348.156080.004.308 (1.677–11.065)0.002
>6 months1451.851520.001.00
Does baby attend a crèche?Yes2719.854533.582.041 (1.174–3.549)0.011
Do you have a babysitter at home?Yes3425.003727.411.133 (0.659–1.947)0.652
Tap waterNo13094.8912285.310.313 (0.128–0.762)0.011
BoreholeNo11483.2110472.730.538 (0.301–0.961)0.036
Sachet waterNo10576.645941.260.214 (0.128–0.359)<0.0001
Bottled waterNo8662.7711681.122.548 (1.480–4.387)0.001
Boiled waterNo10072.9910976.221.186 (0.692–2.033)0.535
River or streamNo137100.00143100.00
Do you keep pets?Yes1511.032115.001.424 (0.700–2.893)0.329

is significant; COR: crude odds ratio; CI: confidence interval.

CharacteristicsDiarrhoea statusAOR (95% CI) value
Controls (%)Cases (%)

Mother’s age<3034.3131.690.435 (0.179 – 1.056)0.066
ReligionChristianity85.2951.750.200 (0.070 – 0.569)0.003
Educational statusBelow tertiary20.0074.1310.908 (40.62 – 29.291)<0.0001
EmploymentUnemployed12.5923.084.374 (1.453 – 13.165)0.009
Income<100,00061.4092.374.342 (1.364 – 13.821)0.013
4 – bedroom5.151.491.55 (0.10 – 2.398)0.182
3 – bedroom12.505.971.540 (0.241 – 9.861)0.648
2 – bedroom47.7914.181.773 (0.320 – 9.832)0.512
Self-contained24.2646.272.157 (0.467 – 9.957)0.325
Rooming house6.6231.341.00
Toilet facilityPit latrine3.6816.31NC
Water closet94.8570.210.153 (0.022 – 1.045)0.055

(AOR: is significant). AOR: adjusted odds ratios; CI: confidence interval.

CharacteristicsAOR (95% CI) value

Where was the baby born?At home5.381 (0.45963.063)0.180
Hospital0.815 (0.185–3.603)0.788
Traditional maternity centre1.00
How was your child born?Caesarean section1.644 (0.730–3.699)0.230
Natural birth1.00
Did you receive antenatal care?Yes0.131 (0.026–0.659)0.014
Was the baby placed on exclusive breastfeeding?Yes0.314 (0.154–0.641)0.001
Does the baby attend crèche?Yes1.244 (0.599–2.583)0.557
Is there a baby sitter or nanny at home?Yes0.746 (0.350–1.589)0.447
Tap waterNo0.784 (0.238–2.584)0.690
BoreholeNo0.252 (0.105–0.606)0.002
Sachet waterNo0.130 (0.063–0.267)<0.0001
Bottled waterNo2.658 (1.226–5.762)0.013
Boiled waterNo1.128 (0.537–2.367)0.751
Do you keep petsYes0.971 (0.385–2.446)0.950

(AOR: is significant). AOR: adjusted odds ratios.

CharacteristicsAOR (95% CI) value

ReligionChristianity0.159 (0.055–0.462)0.001
EducationBelow tertiary10.282 (4.369–24.198)<0.0001
Income<100,0006.908 (2.266–21.055)0.001
Where was your baby born?At home5.280 (0.150–185.695)0.360
Hospital0.893 (0.091–8.781)0.923
Maternity centre
Did you receive antenatal care during pregnancy?Yes0.418 (0.069–2.550)0.344
Do you keep your baby in crèche?Yes2.418 (0.974–6.002)0.057
Tap waterNo0.249 (0.046–1.343)0.106
SachetNo0.213 (0.091–0.498)<0.0001
Bottled waterNo1.400 (0.568–3.451)0.465

(AOR: is significant); AOR: adjusted odds ratios.

Table 1 shows the relationship between the age group and gender of the children and diarrhoea occurrence in the study area. These two variables were similar in both case and control groups, and there was no significant relationship between the age (COR = 0.359, CI = 0.101 – 1.274, ) and gender (COR = 1.245, CI = 0.774 – 2.003, ) of the children with diarrhoea occurrence in the study area.

Table 2 depicts the sociodemographic characteristics of caregivers or mothers for the case and control groups. All variables were significantly different between the case and control except for the age of the mothers. Results showed that there were significant relationships between diarrhoea occurrence and: mother’s religion (OR = 0.185, ), mother’s educational status (OR = 11.459, ), mother’s employment status (OR = 2.082, ), and family income (OR = 7.613, ).

Table 3 presents the medical history and environmental variables as risk factors for diarrhoea. There were significant relationships between where the child was born (OR = 0.221. ), mother's antenatal attendance (OR = 0.05, ), exclusive breastfeeding (OR = 0.25, ), reduced breastfeeding (OR = 4.3, ), and crèche attendance (OR = 2.04, ) and the occurrence of diarrhoea in this study. Children not exposed to drinking tap water (OR = 0.313, ), borehole (OR = 0.538, ), and sachets (OR = 0.214, ) were less likely to have diarrhoea, whereas those that drank bottled water (OR = 2.548, ) were two times less likely to have diarrhoea (Table 3).

Tables 4 and 5 showed the values of the adjusted odds ratio (AOR) of the variables. Some of the variables shown to be statistically significant using crude odds ratios were also significant after being adjusted. Thus, the results revealed that the mother's level of education (AOR = 10.282, ) and family income (AOR = 6.908, ) have a significant relationship with diarrhoea occurrence in children under five years of age (Table 6).

5. Discussion

This study identified three significant risk factors that could predispose children under age five to diarrhoea occurrence. These factors are: mother’s educational status (OR = 11.46, ), mother’s employment status (OR = 2.08, ), and family income (OR = 7.61, ). Other factors are the mother’s antenatal attendance, duration of breastfeeding, child's crèche attendance, and source of drinking water.

The observation that children born by mothers with at most primary education is more likely to have diarrhoea than a child of a more educated mother supports other studies conducted in Lagos (Akinyemi, 2019), Osun, and Oyo States [25]. Literacy has been earmarked consistently as a major determinant of health in any population, especially with regard to female education. Educated women have a better understanding of personal hygiene, nutrition and are more knowledgeable about accessing the healthcare system. [26], concluded in one of their studies that maternal education is the most important risk factor to diarrhoea prevalence among children under five years of age in Nigeria.

Family income is a major risk factor of diarrhoea prevalence among children. This study revealed that a child from a family with reduced income is more likely to have diarrhoea than a child from a financially comfortable home. This study agrees with the findings of [19], in which low monthly household income had a significant association with childhood diarrhoea in Southwest Nigeria. Reference [25] concluded that low socioeconomic status impedes the health of children under age five in Southwest Nigeria. Global reports highlight the impact of poverty on the burden of diarrhoea disease prevalence among children [27, 28]. Reduced income subjects a family to poor living conditions such as lack of access to potable drinking water, improper sewage disposal, poor drainage system, and toilet facilities which have been identified as risk factors of childhood diarrhoea [29, 30]. The observation that children of unemployed mothers are twice likely to have diarrhoea than children of employed mothers (Table 2) is similar to findings of [31], which further corroborates the impact of poverty on childhood diarrhoea incidence. This implies that mothers generate more income for the family, thereby providing basic household sanitary materials that ensure hygienic living conditions for the children.

Bivariate logistics regression identified the mother's antenatal attendance, breastfeeding, and source of drinking water as protective factors of diarrhoea prevalence in children. Lack of access to potable water is a key player in the transmission of diarrhoeal diseases because unclean water harbours diarrhoeagenic pathogens. Studies from Southwest Nigeria have implicated faecal contamination of the water used for domestic purposes [3235]. The level of microbial contamination of the water used for domestic purposes is higher in Lagos State than Ogun state because of the high population, thus leading to poor management of wastes, which could lead to pollution of water aquifers [32, 36]. This may be the reason for the high prevalence rate of diarrhoea in Lagos state (13.4%) than Ogun State (2%). Some of the drinking water (sachets) consumed in Lagos State are from unprotected sources [37, 38].

Exclusive breastfeeding confers immunity against diarrhoea in children below the age of five. This study revealed that children placed on exclusive breastfeeding were less likely to suffer from diarrhoeal diseases, while those fed with breastmilk for less than six months were more likely to have diarrhoea [3941]. WHO and UNICEF recommend exclusive breastfeeding of infants for up to the first six months of life because of the nutritional and immunological value it provides to the child. Besides, breastfeeding helps to improve the cognitive and sensory development in infants. Besides, breastfeeding can protect a child against chronic and infectious diseases such as diarrhoea and pneumonia in children younger than five years of age. Breastfeeding has a huge impact on the health status of children. A significant correlation exists between breastfeeding and diarrhoea episodes [42, 43]. Suboptimal breastfeeding increases the risk of developing diarrhoea because breast milk can confer the proper functioning of the gut immune system in infants, both for a short- and long-term duration [44, 45]. Besides, breast milk contains antibodies, immunoglobulin A (IgA), which confer protection against pathogenic bacteria and harmonise the activity of white blood cells [46, 47].

6. Conclusion

This study strongly supports the fact that socioeconomic factors are significant determinants of childhood diarrhoea. Female education should be encouraged by the right government policy to achieve child favourable health outcomes in the future. Thus, the achievement of the sustainable development goal (SDG) 3 for a possible reduction of neonates and infants' deaths in Nigeria.

Data Availability

The data supporting the results of this study are included in the manuscript.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Authors’ Contributions

All authors participated in the preparation of this manuscript.


The authors would like to thank the staff of Massey Street Children Hospital Lagos Island, Orile-Agege General Hospital Agege, State Hospital Ota, and Federal Medical Centre Abeokuta, for their support. The authors would also like to express their gratitude to the study participants for their cooperation and participation during the data collection. Their deep gratitude also goes to Covenant University, Ota for defraying the cost of this publication.


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Copyright © 2021 Harriet U. Ugboko et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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