Characteristics of Children Hospitalized with Severe Dehydration and Persistent Diarrhoea in Bangladesh

N.H. Alam, A.S.G. Faruque, N. Dewan, S.A. Sarker, G.J. Fuchs


The study analyzed data from a systematic sample of children, aged less than five years, who presented with persistent diarrhoea (diarrhoea of more than 14 days duration). It aims to differentiate (a) non-severe persistent diarrhoea (with no or mild dehydration) and (b) severe persistent diarrhoea (with moderate or severe dehydration), and to identify individual characteristics associated with severe persistent diarrhoea. In total, 7,505 patients, who represented a 4% systematic sample of the patient population, were seen during January 1993-December 1995. Of them, 297 (4%) presented with persistent diarrhoea. The male:female ratio was 2:1. Eighty-three percent of them had mild or no dehydration, and 17% had moderate or severe dehydration. Severe malnutrition of the study patients defined as weight-for-age z-score <-3, weight-for-length z-score <-3 and length-for-age z-score <-3 were 33.9%, 9.7%, and 22.7% respectively. Only 3% had oedematous malnutrition, and 11% had xerophthalmia. Factors independently associated with severe persistent diarrhoea by logistic regression analyses were: number of watery stool >10 times during the last 24 hours prior to admission (OR, 10.0; CI, 1.2-87, p=0.03), lower respiratory tract infection (OR, 111; CI, 4.2-2955, p=0.004), and lack of mothers’ education (OR, 7.8; CI, 1.4-41.9, p=0.016) after controlling for confounders. Awareness and health education of mothers or caregivers and better case management during acutediarrhoeal episode might prevent the development of severe persistent diarrhoea in young children. In addition, children with severe persistent diarrhoea might need special attention to have adequate rehydration and control of extraintestinal infections, including respiratory tract infection.

Key words: Diarrhoea, Infantile; Diarrhoea, Persistent; Diarrhoea, Acute; Child nutrition disorders; Dehydration; Bangladesh

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