Keywords: Child Labor, Child Health, malnutrition, harmful exposure
Background:The relation between child work and health is complex and poorly understood. Objectives:To synthesize the available knowledge, identify unexplored areas and discuss general limits of the published evidence. For outcomes, we focused on nutritional status, harmful exposures, and injuries, the outcomes most commonly hypothesized to be affected by child labor. Methods:Four electronic databases (EMBASE, MEDLINE, Scopus, ISI Web of Science) were searched in September 2016. All articles published since 1996, without restrictions on language, were considered for inclusion. Results:Of the 1008 abstracts initially identified by the search, 73 articles were selected for inclusion and reviewed. Most of the studies were conducted in Asia and South America, and only a third of them compared working children to a control group of non-working children. Child labor appears to be associated with poor nutritional status, diseases due to harmful exposures and a higher prevalence of injuries. However, the cross-sectional design of most studies limits the casual interpretation of these findings. More rigorous observational studies are needed to confirm and better quantify these associations.