Rotavirus A infection in children under five years old with a double health problem: undernutrition and diarrhoea – a cross-sectional study in four provinces of Mozambique

Assucênio Chissaque, Marta Cassocera, Carolina Gasparinho, Jéronimo Souzinho Langa, Adilson Fernando Loforte Bauhofer, Jorfélia José Chilaúle, Eva Dora João, Benilde António Munlela, Júlia Assiat Monteiro Sambo, Simone Salvador Boene, Marlene Bernardo Djedje, Elda Muianga Anapakala, Esperança Lourenço Guimarães, Diocreciano Matias Bero, Lena Vânia Manhique-Coutinho, Idalécia Cossa-Moiane, Timothy A. Kellogg, Luzia Augusta Pires Gonçalves, Nilsa de Deus

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Background: Mozambique has a high burden of group A rotavirus (RVA) infection and chronic undernutrition. This study aimed to determine the frequency and potential risk factors for RVA infection in undernourished children under 5 years old with diarrhoea in Mozambique. Methods: The analysis was conducted using data from March 2015 to December 2017, regarding children under 5 years old with at least one type of undernutrition. Anthropometric measures were used to calculate indices of weight-for-age, weight-for-height and height-for-age through the Z-Scores. RVA results were extracted from the National Diarrhoea Surveillance database. Descriptive statistics, chi-square test was used for qualitative variables and organized in contingency tables and 95% Confidence Intervals (CI) were considered for the calculation of RVA infection proportion and in the multiple logistic regression models to estimate the adjusted odds ratios (AOR). Results: Of the 842 undernourished children included in the analysis, 27.2% (95% CI: 24.3–30.3%) were positive for RVA. The rate of RVA infection was 42.7% (95% CI: 38.0–47.5%) in the pre-vaccine period, with great reduction to 12.2% (95% CI: 9.4–15.6%) in the post-vaccine period. Most of the RVA undernourished children had severe wasting (33.3%) and severe stunting (32.0%). The risk of infection was significantly high in children from 0 to 11 months (p-value < 0.001) when compared to the age group of 24–59 months. A higher proportion of RVA infection was detected in households with five or more members (p-value = 0.029). Similar proportions of RVA were observed in children fed only by breast milk (34.9%) and breast milk with formula (35.6%). A higher proportion of undernourished HIV-positive children co-infected with RVA (7.4%) was observed. Conclusions: The frequency of RVA infection in undernourished children declined following the introduction of the vaccine in Mozambique. Beyond the temporal variation, Maputo province, age and crowded households were also associated to RVA infection. A high proportion of RVA infection was observed in children with severe wasting and a triple burden of disease: undernutrition, RVA and HIV, highlighting the need to conduct follow-up studies to understand the long-term impact of these conditions on children’s development.

Original languageEnglish
Article number18
Pages (from-to)18-30
Number of pages13
JournalBMC Infectious Diseases
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jan 2021


  • Diarrhoea
  • Mozambique
  • Risk factors
  • Rotavirus A
  • Undernutrition


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