Growth faltering in childhood related to diarrhea: a longitudinal community based study

Eur J Clin Nutr. 2005 Nov;59(11):1317-23. doi: 10.1038/sj.ejcn.1602245.


Objective: This study aimed to evaluate the association of diarrhea and acute lower respiratory tract infections (ALRI) with growth of preschool children.

Design: A longitudinal community-based study over a 12-month period. Children were followed up with thrice-weekly household visits for collection of morbidity data. Every 4 months (round) clinical and anthropometric examinations were performed. At baseline a questionnaire was used to collect socioeconomic family data and environmental household variables. Generalized estimating equation was used in the statistical analysis. The variations in weight-for-age or height-for-age Z-scores in each round were the dependent variables, while the main independent variables were the number of days with diarrhea and ALRI.

Setting: Serrinha, located in Northeast Brazil.

Subjects: In total, 487 children, aged 6-48 months at baseline, with 1-y complete follow-up.

Results: The number of sick days with diarrhea or ALRI was not associated with mean changes in weight-for-age Z-scores. However, the mean of height-for-age Z-scores was found to decrease in those children with 7 or more days of diarrhea (beta=-0.0472; P=0.016) but not with 1 or more days of ALRI (beta=0.0022; P=0.406) in all rounds of the follow-up period.

Conclusion: Results of the study reinforce the concept of diarrhea burden as a major determinant of poor growth in children under 5 y of age. Actions targeted to decrease the risk factors for the occurrence of diarrhea may represent an important component of interventions aimed to ensure satisfactory child growth.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Body Height / physiology
  • Body Weight / physiology
  • Brazil / epidemiology
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Comorbidity
  • Diarrhea / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Growth Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Residence Characteristics / statistics & numerical data
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / epidemiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors