Contamination of weaning foods and transmission of enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli diarrhoea in children in rural Bangladesh

Robert E. Black, Robert E. Black, Kenneth H. Brown, Stan Becker, A. R.M.Abdul Alim, Michael H. Merson, Robert E. Black, Kenneth H. Brown, Kenneth H. Brown, Kenneth H. Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

133 Scopus citations


In longitudinal studies of infectious diseases and nutrition in Bangladesh, we determined the degree of bacterial contamination of traditional weaning foods and evaluated the role of these foods in the transmission of diarrhoeal diseases. 41% of samples of food items fed to weaning aged children contained Escherichia coli; these organisms were used as indicators of faecal contamination. Milk and foods prepared particularly for infants were more frequently and heavily contaminated with E. coli than was boiled rice, and E. coli levels were found to be related to the storage of cooked foods at high environmental temperatures. 50% of drinking water specimens also contained E. coli, but colony counts were approximately 10-fold lower than in food specimens. The proportion of a child’s food samples that contained E. coli was significantly related to the child’s annual incidence of diarrhoea associated with enterotoxigenic E. coli. This observation underscores the importance of seeking locally available foods that are hygienic as well as nutritious to supplement the diets of breastfeeding children in developing countries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)259-264
Number of pages6
JournalTransactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1982
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases


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