Update on prolonged and persistent diarrhea in children


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Abstract

Purpose of reviewTo highlight recent advances in our understanding of prolonged episodes of acute diarrhea and persistent diarrhea in children. The focus is on the contribution of these illnesses to the global burden of diarrhea, their impact on childhood growth and development, novel epidemiologic links between prolonged and persistent diarrheal episodes, and strategies for their prevention and management.Recent findingsAlthough less common than acute diarrhea, prolonged and persistent episodes of diarrhea in childhood constitute a significant portion of the global burden of diarrhea. These episodes also play a key role in the vicious cycle of childhood diarrhea and malnutrition in which undernutrition is both a risk factor and an outcome of diarrhea. Increased efforts to provide WHO-recommended zinc therapy for all children with diarrhea in developing countries will significantly reduce morbidity and mortality. In children who develop persistent diarrhea, yogurt-based or amino acid-based diets may accelerate their recovery.SummaryIn addition to increased implementation of strategies already known to effectively prevent and manage acute diarrhea, further research is needed to address the recognition, prevention, and treatment of prolonged episodes of acute diarrhea and persistent diarrhea in resource-limited settings.

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