Background: Diarrhea is widely recognized as a major cause of childhood morbidity and mortality in many developing countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. According to World Health Organization (WHO) report in the African region, diarrheal diseases are still leading causes of mortality and morbidity in children under five years of age. This same report indicates that each child in the said region has five episodes of diarrhea per year and that 800,000 die each year from diarrhea and dehydration.
Materials and methods: This study examined diarrheal morbidity and associated risk factors in children under five years in Jos. A total of 340 children were seen in the Diarrhea Training Unit (DTU) of the Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH), Jos, over a period of 24 months (Jan 2008-Dec 2009). A semi-structured interviewer administered questionnaire was used to generate the data. All women whose children presented with diarrhea were interviewed and data generated analyzed using Epi info version 3.5.1 statistical software.
Results: During the study period, 13,076 children were seen in our facility, of which 340 were suffering from diarrhea, thus giving a diarrhea prevalence of 2.7%. There were 183 (54%) male and 157 (40%) female children seen with diarrhea. The mean age was 11 ± 8.5 months. The mean duration of diarrhea was found to be 4 ± 3.6 days. A majority of children were aged less than 6 months, consisting of 235 infants, 95 toddlers, and 10 pre-schoolers. Of the number of women seen, 242 (61%) had at least primary education, while 98 (29%) had no formal education. Diarrheal episodes were found to have a bivariate association with mothers' educational status, family type, family size, breastfeeding, and sex of child. However, only mother's educational status, diarrhea in other sibling, and breast feeding were significantly associated with the occurrence of diarrhea. Although there were more male children with diarrhea, the odds of having diarrhea was not significantly related to sex.
Conclusion: Our study demonstrated an important relationship between diarrheal morbidity and low maternal education, nonexclusively breastfed infant, and previous diarrheal episode in a sibling. It thus meant that diarrhea morbidity is still an important problem for infants in our environment. Moreover, maternal education and exclusive breastfeeding are still relevant viable measures in curbing diarrhea in infants.