What is the global incidence of diarrhea?

Updated: Jan 31, 2020
  • Author: Stefano Guandalini, MD; Chief Editor: Carmen Cuffari, MD  more...
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In developing countries, an average of 3 episodes per child per year in children younger than 5 years is reported; however, some areas report 6-8 episodes per year per child. In these settings, malnutrition is an important additional risk factor for diarrhea, and recurrent episodes of diarrhea lead to growth faltering and substantially increased mortality. [4] Childhood mortality associated with diarrhea has constantly but slowly declined during the past 2 decades, mostly because of the widespread use of oral rehydration solutions; however, it appears to have plateaued over the past several years.

Because the single most common cause of infectious diarrhea worldwide is rotavirus, and because a vaccine has been in use for over 3 years now, a reduction in the overall frequency of diarrheal episodes is hoped for in the near future.

A study by Lübbert et al found the incidence of Clostridium difficile infection in Germany in 2012 to be 83 cases per 100,000 population. The chance of recurrence increased with each relapse; an initial recurrence of the infection was found in 18.2% of patients with index events, with 28.4% of these patients having a second recurrence and 30.2% of second-recurrence patients having a third recurrence. [5]

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