Intended for healthcare professionals


Diarrhoea and malnutrition in children

BMJ 2006; 332 doi: (Published 16 February 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;332:378
  1. Abdullah H Baqui, associate professor (,
  2. Tahmeed Ahmed, head
  1. Department of International Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA
  2. Nutrition Programme, International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh, Mohakhali, Dhaka 1212, Bangladesh

    Replacing fluid and minerals, particularly zinc, remains vital

    The 8th Commonwealth Congress on Diarrhoea and Malnutrition in Dhaka, Bangladesh, earlier this month questioned whether we are doing enough towards combating malnutrition and intestinal diseases in children. We could be, if recent advances in managing diarrhoea and malnutrition and in supplementing micronutrients, particularly zinc, were to be widely implemented.

    Most episodes of diarrhoea are infectious and are caused by a variety of bacteria, viruses, and parasites.w1 Dehydration is the most direct effect of diarrhoea, accounting for the majority of deaths. The advent and widespread adoption of oral rehydration therapy has greatly reduced the mortality related to diarrhoea.w2

    Yet diarrhoeal illnesses in young children continue to be a leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. Every year around 10 million children under 5 die: about half of these deaths are associated with undernutrition …

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