Global burden of childhood diarrhea and interventions

Curr Opin Infect Dis. 2014 Oct;27(5):451-8. doi: 10.1097/QCO.0000000000000096.


Purpose of review: Diarrhea is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality among children under 5 years in low-income and middle-income countries. Over the past 2 decades under-five mortality has decreased substantially, but reductions have been uneven and unsatisfactory in resource-poor regions.

Recent findings: There are known interventions which can prevent diarrhea or manage children who suffer from it. Interventions with proven effectiveness at the prevention level include water, sanitation, and hygiene interventions, breastfeeding, complementary feeding, vitamin A and zinc supplementation, and vaccines for diarrhea (rotavirus and cholera). Oral rehydration solution, zinc treatment, continued feeding, and antibiotic treatment for certain strains of diarrhea (cholera, Shigella, and cryptosporidiosis) are effective strategies for treatment of diarrhea. The recent Lancet series using the 'Lives Saved' tool suggested that if these identified interventions were scaled up to a global coverage to at least 80%, and immunizations to at least 90%; almost all deaths due to diarrhea could be averted.

Summary: The current childhood mortality burden highlights the need of a focused global diarrhea action plan. The findings suggest that with proper packaging of interventions and delivery platforms, the burden of childhood diarrhea can be reduced to a greater extent. All that is required is greater attention and steps toward right direction.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Breast Feeding*
  • Child
  • Child Nutrition Disorders / immunology
  • Child Nutrition Disorders / mortality
  • Child Nutrition Disorders / prevention & control*
  • Child Nutritional Physiological Phenomena / immunology
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cost of Illness
  • Dehydration / immunology
  • Dehydration / mortality
  • Dehydration / prevention & control*
  • Developing Countries
  • Diarrhea / etiology
  • Diarrhea / immunology
  • Diarrhea / mortality
  • Diarrhea / prevention & control*
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Humans
  • Immunization
  • Infant
  • Infant Nutritional Physiological Phenomena / immunology
  • Poverty Areas
  • Rehydration Solutions / economics
  • Rehydration Solutions / therapeutic use*
  • Sanitation
  • Water Supply


  • Rehydration Solutions