Presented By Dr. Sergei Shushunov
Each year in the United States, 37 million cases of childhood diarrhea occur in children ages 5 years and younger. On average, every child experiences two bouts of diarrhea a year. Annually in the United States, infant diarrhea results in almost 4 million doctors’ office visits, over 200,000 hospital admissions, and several hundred preventable deaths (1).
Causes of Baby Diarrhea
Diarrhea can be caused by a variety of microbes, or parasites, but most often it is caused by viruses. Approximately 10% of all cases of childhood diarrhea are caused by a rotavirus; Rotavirus frequently produces more severe diarrhea, than other microbes. It is known that among children with severe diarrhea, rotavirus is found in almost 50% of cases (2). Worldwide, rotavirus causes more than 125 million cases of diarrhea annually in children younger than 5 years of age. In the developed countries, children rarely die from diarrhea, but the mortality rate associated with rotavirus in developing countries is over 800,000 each year (3).
Rotavirus is transmitted by close contact, especially through the fecal-oral route, and possibly through the respiratory route (3). Rotavirus is an important pathogen in day care-acquired illnesses. The virus can remain infectious on inanimate surfaces, such as toys, for several days, and up to four hours on human hands (4). As a rule, rotavirus infection is accompanied by fever, vomiting, and diarrhea followed by dehydration (loss of body water) and loss of electrolytes (minerals). Dehydration, and loss of electrolytes is the cause of children’s sickness when they develop diarrhea; therefore, management and prevention of dehydration is an important strategy in the treatment of diarrhea. Tens of of other viruses can cause stomach flue with diarrhea, which can be severe enough to lead to dehydration. Diarrhea also be caused by some bacteria, such as E. coli, salmonella, and shigella, is frequently accompanied by high-grade fever and blood in the stool.