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Moderate-to-severe diarrhea and stunting among children younger than 5 years: findings from the Vaccine Impact on Diarrhea in Africa (VIDA) Study

Journal Contribution - Journal Article

BACKGROUND: Stunting affects >20% of children <5 years old worldwide and disproportionately impacts underserved communities. The Vaccine Impact on Diarrhea in Africa (VIDA) Study examined the association between an episode of moderate-to-severe diarrhea (MSD) and the risk of subsequent stunting in children <5 years living in 3 sub-Saharan African countries.

METHODS: In this prospective, matched, case-control study among children <5 years, data were collected over 36 months from 2 groups. "Children with MSD" visited a health center within 7 days of illness onset experiencing ≥3 loose stools/day plus sunken eyes, poor skin turgor, dysentery, intravenous rehydration, or hospitalization. "Children without MSD" were enrolled from the community within 14 days of the index MSD child; they were diarrhea-free during the previous 7 days and were matched to the index case by age, sex, and residence. Using generalized linear mixed-effects models, we estimated the effect of an MSD episode on odds of being stunted, defined as height-for-age z-scores <-2, at a follow-up visit 2-3 months post-enrollment.

RESULTS: The proportion of stunting at enrollment was similar when 4603 children with MSD and 5976 children without MSD were compared (21.8% vs 21.3%; P = .504). Among children not stunted at enrollment, those with MSD had 30% higher odds of being stunted at follow-up than children without MSD after controlling for age, sex, study site, and socioeconomic status (adjusted OR: 1.30; 95% CI: 1.05-1.62: P = .018).

CONCLUSIONS: Children <5 years in sub-Saharan Africa without stunting experienced an increased likelihood of stunting during 2-3 months following an episode of MSD. Strategies for control of early childhood diarrhea should be integrated into programs intended to reduce childhood stunting.

Journal: Clinical Infectious Diseases
ISSN: 1058-4838
Issue: Suppl.1
Volume: 76
Pages: S41-S48
Publication year:2023
Keywords:Humans, Child, Child, Preschool, Infant, Prospective Studies, Case-Control Studies, Diarrhea/epidemiology, Africa South of the Sahara/epidemiology, Growth Disorders/epidemiology