Incidence, impact on the family and cost of gastroenteritis among 4 to 6-year-old children in South Australia

J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2006 Aug;21(8):1320-5. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1746.2006.04142.x.


Background: Gastroenteritis is an important cause of morbidity in both adults and children worldwide. Although the burden of morbidity and mortality is highest in developing countries, gastroenteritis is still a significant cause of morbidity in Australia, particularly in young children. The aims of the present study were to determine the incidence of gastroenteritis among 4-6-year-old children in South Australia, to describe the impact on daily activities of the child and caregiver and estimate the cost of gastroenteritis in this population.

Methods: A diary study of drinking water consumption and gastrointestinal and respiratory symptoms was undertaken among 965 rural children in South Australia over a 6-week period during February-May 1999. Data on the response to gastrointestinal episodes were collected by telephone surveys midway and at the end of the 6-week period. Costing was based on the methods of Hellard et al.

Results: The incidence of community gastroenteritis among 4-6-year-old children was 5.53 episodes per child-year (95% confidence interval: 4.87-5.80). The costs associated with childhood gastroenteritis were estimated to be between 16,858,360 AU dollars and 22,477,814 AU dollars per annum.

Conclusions: The incidence of community gastroenteritis among the 4-6-year-olds in the South Australian population is high and it costs the community a significant amount of money in terms of direct medical costs and time lost by parents and carers looking after their ill children.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cost of Illness*
  • Costs and Cost Analysis
  • Female
  • Gastroenteritis / economics*
  • Gastroenteritis / epidemiology*
  • Health Care Costs*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Risk Factors
  • South Australia / epidemiology