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Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health

, Volume 18, Issue 5, pp 1066–1075 | Cite as

Culture and Dehydration: A Comparative Study of Caída de la Mollera (Fallen Fontanel) in Three Latino Populations

  • Lee M. Pachter
  • Susan C. Weller
  • Roberta D. Baer
  • Javier E. Garcia de Alba Garcia
  • Mark Glazer
  • Robert Trotter
  • Robert E. Klein
  • Eduardo Gonzalez
Original Paper

Abstract

A sunken soft-spot or fontanel is a sign for dehydration in infants. Around the world, folk illnesses, such as caída de la mollera in some Latin American cultures, often incorporate this sign as a hallmark of illness, but may or may not incorporate re-hydration therapies in treatment strategies. This report describes a study of lay descriptions of causes, symptoms, and treatments for caída de la mollera in three diverse Latin American populations. A mixed-methods approach was used. Representative community-based samples were interviewed in rural Guatemala, Guadalajara, Mexico, and Edinburgh, Texas, with a 132 item questionnaire on the causes, susceptibility, symptoms, and therapies for caída de la mollera. Cultural consensus analysis was used to estimate community beliefs about caída. Interviews conducted in rural Guatemala (n = 60), urban Mexico (n = 62), and rural Texas on the Mexican border (n = 61) indicated consistency in thematic elements within and among these three diverse communities. The high degree of consistency in the illness explanatory models indicated shared beliefs about caída de la mollera in each of the communities and a core model shared across communities. However, an important aspect of the community beliefs was that rehydration therapies were not widely endorsed. The consistency in explanatory models in such diverse communities, as well as the high degree of recognition and experience with this illness, may facilitate communication between community members, and health care providers/public health intervention planners to increase use of rehydration therapies for caída de la mollera. Recommendations for culturally informed and respectful approaches to clinical communication are provided.

Keywords

Ethnomedicine Folk illness Dehydration Hispanic Latino Culture 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This project was funded by National Science Foundation Grant #BNS-9204555 to S. Weller.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors have no conflicts of interest relevant to this article to disclose.

Financial Disclosure

The authors have no financial relationships relevant to this article to disclose.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lee M. Pachter
    • 1
    • 2
  • Susan C. Weller
    • 3
  • Roberta D. Baer
    • 4
  • Javier E. Garcia de Alba Garcia
    • 5
  • Mark Glazer
    • 6
  • Robert Trotter
    • 7
  • Robert E. Klein
    • 8
  • Eduardo Gonzalez
    • 9
  1. 1.Department of PediatricsDrexel University College of MedicinePhiladelphiaUSA
  2. 2.Center for the Urban Child, Section of General PediatricsSt. Christopher’s Hospital for ChildrenPhiladelphiaUSA
  3. 3.Department of Preventive Medicine and Community Health and Department of Family MedicineUniversity of Texas Medical BranchGalvestonUSA
  4. 4.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of South FloridaTampaUSA
  5. 5.UIESSIMSS, GuadalajaraGuadalajaraMexico
  6. 6.University of TexasEdinburgUSA
  7. 7.Department of AnthropologyNorthern Arizona UniversityFlagstaffUSA
  8. 8.Medical Entomology Research and Training UnitCenters for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Guatemala CityGuatemala
  9. 9.Department of Family MedicineUniversity of South Florida Morsani College of MedicineTampaUSA

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