What is the mortality and morbidity from diarrhea?

Updated: Jan 31, 2020
  • Author: Stefano Guandalini, MD; Chief Editor: Carmen Cuffari, MD  more...
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Mortality from acute diarrhea is overall globally declining but remains high. Most estimates have diarrhea as the second cause of childhood mortality, with 18% of the 10.6 million yearly deaths in children younger than age 5 years.

Despite a progressive reduction in global diarrheal disease mortality over the past 2 decades, diarrhea morbidity in published reports from 1990-2000 slightly increased worldwide compared with previous reports. In the United States, an average of 369 diarrhea-associated deaths/year occurred among children aged 1-59 months during 1992-1998 and 2005-2006. [6] The vast majority of diarrhea-associated infant deaths were reported in 2005-2007, with 86% of deaths occurring among low-birthweight (< 2500 g) infants. [7]

Furthermore, in countries in which the toll of diarrhea is highest, poverty also adds an enormous additional burden, and long-term consequences of the vicious cycle of enteric infections, diarrhea, and malnutrition are devastating. [4]

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