Dr Louis Vernacchio and colleagues defined the characteristics and microbiology of persistent diarrhea in US children.
The research team conducted a 6-month prospective cohort study of a convenience sample of 604 healthy 6- to 36-month-old children.
The children were recruited by the Slone Center Office-based Research Network.
Of 611 diarrhea episodes, 50 lasted 14 days or less.
The incidence of persistent diarrhea was about 0.2 episodes per person-year, and the median duration of episodes was 22 days.
The team found that persistent diarrhea episodes were more likely than acute episodes to result in a medical visit.
|59% of specimens tested were negative for all studied pathogens|
|Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology & Nutrition|
The most commonly used treatments were oral rehydration solution in 12% of episodes, and antibiotics in 6%.
The researchers noted that no bacterial or parasitic pathogens were associated with persistent diarrhea.
However, norovirus, rotavirus and sapovirus were more prevalent in persistent diarrhea stools vs baseline stools, with relative risks of 12, 7 and 6, respectively.
The team found that 59% of the persistent diarrhea specimens tested were negative for all studied pathogens.
Dr Vernacchio's team concludes, “Persistent diarrhea occurs with a frequency of approximately 1 case per 5 person-years in US infants and young children.”
“It seems to be a generally benign illness, with only 28% of cases presenting to medical care.”
“Although viral pathogens seem to cause a minority of persistent diarrhea episodes in this population, most are not due to currently known infectious agents.”