Children are exposed to environmental contaminants by placing contaminated hands or objects in their mouths. We quantified hand- and object-mouthing frequencies of Bangladeshi children and determined if they differ from those of U.S. children to evaluate the appropriateness of applying U.S. exposure models in other socio-cultural contexts. We conducted a five-hour structured observation of the mouthing behaviors of 148 rural Bangladeshi children aged 3–18 months. We modeled mouthing frequencies using 2-parameter Weibull distributions to compare the modeled medians with those of U.S. children. In Bangladesh the median frequency of hand-mouthing was 37.3 contacts/h for children 3–6 months old, 34.4 contacts/h for children 6–12 months old, and 29.7 contacts/h for children 12–18 months old. The median frequency of object-mouthing was 23.1 contacts/h for children 3–6 months old, 29.6 contacts/h for children 6–12 months old, and 15.2 contacts/h for children 12–18 months old. At all ages both hand- and object-mouthing frequencies were higher than those of U.S. children. Mouthing frequencies were not associated with child location (indoor/outdoor). Using hand- and object-mouthing exposure models from U.S. and other high-income countries might not accurately estimate children’s exposure to environmental contaminants via mouthing in low- and middle-income countries.
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