Over the last two months, students from the University of Calgary and Ohio State University have been carrying out research, providing a more holistic understanding of health in rural Nicaragua.

Natasha Hoehn, a graduate student from the University of Calgary, has been presenting preliminary results of her research to community members in Los Robles this June and July. After two years of researching the health of mothers and children in this area under the direction of Dr. Warren Wilson, Natasha and her team have generated data on child growth rates and digestive health. A brief summary of their primary findings are shown in the table below. Their research also looked at levels of food security, diabetes, and mental health of mothers. With the completion of additional sample analyses by Dr. Jason DeCaro at the University of Alabama, the results of this two-year study will soon present a more comprehensive picture of health in Los Robles.

Primary Report of Maternal & Child Health in Los Robles

Los Robles, Jinotega Nicaragua Regional
Child Stunting 14% (2015) 22% (2012) 22.9% (Global, 2016)
Child Overweight 13% (2015) 6.2% (2012) 19-37% (Latin America, 2007)
Mothers with diabetes 26% (2015)

22% (Mexico, 2014)
Mothers with food insecure households 93% (2015) 75% (León, 2015)
Mothers with poor mental health* 44% (2015) 20.7% (León, 2016)° 20% (Global, 2014)°
*Anxiety-related, depressive, and somatoform disorders
° Individuals who have experienced a common mental disorder in past 12 months


Ohio State researchers Alba Mayta and Helena Fox organize their research samples at the end of the day.

A team of anthropologists, public health students, and veterinarians from Ohio State University also began researching how households’ domestic animals affect diarrheal disease in children living in rural Nicaragua. Also based in Los Robles, these students, under the direction of Dr. Barbara Piperata, conducted household surveys and collected samples of gut microbiota, which will be analyzed back at Ohio State. Results from this study will give insight into how a child’s environment affects their microbiota and disease risk. This information will be useful to the Ministry of Health (MINSA) and rural communities in this region to enhance children’s health. Stay tuned for more updates and results from both studies in the next few months!

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