Aims: To explore associations between work status and multidimensional health indices in a sample of urban Lebanese children.
Methods: A cross-sectional survey was used to compare 78 male children (aged 10–17 years) working full time in small industrial shops, and a comparison group of 60 non-working male schoolchildren. All children lived and worked or studied in the poor neighbourhoods of three main Lebanese cities.
Results: Working children reported frequent abuses. They smoked and dated more than the comparison group. They also reported a higher number of injuries (last 12 months) and recent skin, eye, and ear complaints (last two weeks). Physical examination revealed more changes in their skin and nails, but no differences in height or weight compared to non-working group. A higher blood lead concentration was detected among working children, but no differences in haemoglobin and ferritin. No differences were noted between the two groups of children regarding anxiety, hopelessness, and self-esteem. The drawings of the working children, however, revealed a higher tendency to place themselves outside home and a wider deficit in developmental age when compared to non-working children.
Conclusion: Significant differences were found between working and non-working children with respect to physical and social health parameters, but differences were less with regard to mental health. Future research should focus on (1) more sensitive and early predictors of health effects, and (2) long term health effects. The generality of findings to other work settings in the developing world should also be tested.
- CI, confidence interval
- Hb, haemoglobin
- LL, Lebanese pounds
- OR, odds ratio
- Pb-B, blood lead concentration
- child labour
- small industry
- urban health
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