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Study: Poor hand hygiene could stunt children’s growth

September 10, 2013

LONDON — A new scientific review is indicating that simply providing children with soap and clean water could actually help them grow taller, according to the European Cleaning Journal.

The study, conducted by the Cochrane Review by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the charity WaterAid, has found that “improving hand hygiene in a community could add an average of half a centimeter to the height of children under five,” the article stated.

According to the article, the study concluded that dirty water and poor hygiene can increase the risk of infection in a child's gut, which is said to reduce the amount of nutrients that can be absorbed.

"Providing clean water, sanitation and hygiene is an effective way to reduce the incidence and associated deaths from diseases such as diarrhea — which remains the third biggest killer of under-fives worldwide," said Dr. Alan Dangour, lead author of the study.

"For the first time our analysis suggests that better access to these services may also have a small but important impact on the growth of young children," Dangour added.

Click here to read the article in its entirety.