Current Issue
May 2014 magazine cover
Subscribe

Save 81% off the newsstand price!

Keeping you current

Soap And Clean Water Make Kids Taller

By staving off childhood illnesses, basic sanitation makes children grow taller

There must be something in the water.

As it turns out that old saying as actually mostly true. Except it’s what’s not in the water that seems to matter most. According to the BBC, new research shows that having access to clean water and basic hygiene products—like soap—make kids taller: “A review of global data found evidence of a small increase in height – about 0.5cm – in under-fives living in households with good sanitation.”

Clean water and basic sanitation keep diseases away and stave off child illnesses.

The analysis suggested, for the first time, that better access to these services may also have a small but important impact on the growth of young children, he said.

“What we’ve found by bringing together all of the evidence for the first time is that there is a suggestion that these interventions improve the growth of children and that’s very important,” he told BBC News.

“This is the first time really that evidence has been provided to support the provision of water sanitation and hygiene interventions to improve growth.”

He said there is a clear link between a child drinking dirty water, getting diarrhoea and having poor growth, because repeated illnesses in early childhood can impair growth.

Other research by the World Bank has previously tied height to living conditions, focusing on the link between sanitation and size.

More from Smithsonian.com:

Bill Gates’ Potty Mouth – His Eco-friendly Toilet Contest Hands Out $100,000 in Prizes
How Death Played a Role in the Evolution of Human Height

Tags
About Colin Schultz
Colin Schultz

Colin Schultz is a freelance science writer and editor based in Toronto, Canada. He blogs for Smart News and contributes to the American Geophysical Union. He has a B.Sc. in physical science and philosophy, and a M.A. in journalism.

Read more from this author |

Comment on this Story

comments powered by Disqus