By Michael Arndt, Research Fellow, PATH, Hope Randall, Digital Communications Officer, PATH
This post originally appeared on the DefeatDD Blog.
You might know that handwashing makes a huge impact when it comes to preventing diarrhea: if everyone made handwashing a habit, diarrhea risk would drop by nearly half! But did you know that good handwashing and hygiene habits can also help children reach their full growth and cognitive potential?
Long-term low-level gut damage, called environmental enteric dysfunction (EED), is an issue that brings WASH, nutrition, vaccine communities together to underscore the importance of a multifaceted approach to defeat the vicious cycle of malnutrition and diarrheal disease and help children grow healthy and strong.
We talked with EED expert and PATH research fellow Michael Arndt to shed some light on these seemingly unlikely connections.
First, tell us a little about yourself. How did you become interested in gut health?
When I came to the University of Washington in 2010, I worked with Dr. Judd Walson, who was running a clinical trial of empiric deworming to delay HIV disease progression in Kenyan adults. I learned a great deal about the immunological effects of soil-transmitted helminths from my master’s thesis and was introduced to the concept of environmental enteric dysfunction (EED) while working on a project for the UW Department of Global Health Strategic Analysis, Research, & Training (START) Center. EED seemed to have such widespread impacts on child health, and there were many unanswered questions.