Environmental Enteric Dysfunction in Children

J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2016 Jul;63(1):6-14. doi: 10.1097/MPG.0000000000001147.


Diarrheal diseases are a major cause of childhood death in resource-poor countries, killing approximately 760,000 children younger than 5 years each year. Although deaths due to diarrhea have declined dramatically, high rates of stunting and malnutrition have persisted. Environmental enteric dysfunction (EED) is a subclinical condition caused by constant fecal-oral contamination with resultant intestinal inflammation and villous blunting. These histological changes were first described in the 1960s, but the clinical effect of EED is only just being recognized in the context of failure of nutritional interventions and oral vaccines in resource-poor countries. We review the existing literature regarding the underlying causes of and potential interventions for EED in children, highlighting the epidemiology, clinical and histologic classification of the entity, and discussing novel biomarkers and possible therapies. Future research priorities are also discussed.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Child Health
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diarrhea, Infantile / epidemiology*
  • Diarrhea, Infantile / etiology
  • Diarrhea, Infantile / microbiology
  • Diarrhea, Infantile / prevention & control
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Global Health
  • Humans
  • Hygiene
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intestinal Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Intestinal Diseases / etiology
  • Intestinal Diseases / microbiology
  • Intestinal Diseases / prevention & control
  • Male
  • Poverty