This paper examines women's beliefs about the causes of childhood illness in rural Guatemala, using information from a qualitative survey. The authors focus on beliefs about the two major causes of child morbidity and mortality in developing countries: diarrhea and acute respiratory infection (ARI). Since parents' ability to prevent children's illnesses and to seek effective treatment depends in part on their beliefs about the causes of these illnesses, increased knowledge related to parents' beliefs about illness is necessary for a better understanding of how parents make health-related choices. In the first section of the paper, the authors briefly summarize the biomedical perspective on the causes of diarrhea and ARI in developing countries. In the second section, they summarize the findings of anthropological research on health beliefs. The third section is a discussion of the study communities and methods. The fourth section presents the authors' results.
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