Disease development in children

It is both preventable and treatable. Each year diarrhoea kills around 525 000 children under five. A significant proportion of diarrhoeal disease can disease development in children prevented through safe drinking-water and adequate sanitation and hygiene.

7 billion cases of childhood diarrhoeal disease every year. Diarrhoea is a leading cause of malnutrition in children under five years old. Diarrhoeal disease is the second leading cause of death in children under five years old, and is responsible for killing around 525 000 children every year. Diarrhoea can last several days, and can leave the body without the water and salts that are necessary for survival. In the past, for most people, severe dehydration and fluid loss were the main causes of diarrhoea deaths. Frequent passing of formed stools is not diarrhoea, nor is the passing of loose, “pasty” stools by breastfed babies.

Diarrhoea is usually a symptom of an infection in the intestinal tract, which can be caused by a variety of bacterial, viral and parasitic organisms. Infection is spread through contaminated food or drinking-water, or from person-to-person as a result of poor hygiene. Interventions to prevent diarrhoea, including safe drinking-water, use of improved sanitation and hand washing with soap can reduce disease risk. In addition, a 10-14 day supplemental treatment course of dispersible 20 mg zinc tablets shortens diarrheoa duration and improves outcomes. Worldwide, 780 million individuals lack access to improved drinking-water and 2. Diarrhoea due to infection is widespread throughout developing countries.

In low-income countries, children under three years old experience on average three episodes of diarrhoea every year. Each episode deprives the child of the nutrition necessary for growth. As a result, diarrhoea is a major cause of malnutrition, and malnourished children are more likely to fall ill from diarrhoea. Dehydration occurs when these losses are not replaced.

The degree of dehydration is rated on a scale of three. Infection is more common when there is a shortage of adequate sanitation and hygiene and safe water for drinking, cooking and cleaning. Rotavirus and Escherichia coli, are the two most common etiological agents of moderate-to-severe diarrhoea in low-income countries. Malnutrition: Children who die from diarrhoea often suffer from underlying malnutrition, which makes them more vulnerable to diarrhoea. Each diarrhoeal episode, in turn, makes their malnutrition even worse.

Source: Water contaminated with human faeces, for example, from sewage, septic tanks and latrines, is of particular concern. Animal faeces also contain microorganisms that can cause diarrhoea. Other causes: Diarrhoeal disease can also spread from person-to-person, aggravated by poor personal hygiene. Food is another major cause of diarrhoea when it is prepared or stored in unhygienic conditions.

Unsafe domestic water storage and handling is also an important risk factor. Fish and seafood from polluted water may also contribute to the disease. ORS is a mixture of clean water, salt and sugar. It costs a few cents per treatment. ORS is absorbed in the small intestine and replaces the water and electrolytes lost in the faeces. Rehydration: with intravenous fluids in case of severe dehydration or shock. Consulting a health professional , in particular for management of persistent diarrhoea or when there is blood in stool or if there are signs of dehydration.