Background: Diarrhea remains one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality among children under 5 years of age, but in many low and middle-income countries where vital registration data are lacking, updated estimates with regard to the proportion of deaths attributable to diarrhea are needed.
Methods: We conducted a systematic literature review to identify studies reporting diarrhea proportionate mortality for children 1-59 mo of age published between 1980 and 2009. Using the published proportionate mortality estimates and country level covariates we constructed a logistic regression model to estimate country and regional level proportionate mortality and estimated uncertainty bounds using Monte-Carlo simulations.
Findings: We identified more than 90 verbal autopsy studies from around the world to contribute data to a single-cause model. We estimated diarrhea proportionate mortality for 84 countries in 6 regions and found diarrhea to account for between 10.0% of deaths in the Americas to 31.3% of deaths in the South-east Asian region.
Discussion: Diarrhea remains a leading cause of death for children 1-59 mo of age. Published literature can be used to create a single-cause mortality disease model to estimate mortality for countries lacking vital registration data.