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New Global Study Pinpoints Main Causes of Childhood Diarrheal Diseases, Suggests Effective Solutions
Date:5/13/2013

rheal disease and as a result there is currently little research on this pathogen underway.

“The GEMS findings help set priorities for investments that could greatly reduce the burden of childhood diarrheal diseases,” said Dr. Thomas Brewer, deputy director of the Enteric & Diarrheal Diseases team at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which funded the study. “Vaccines and treatments available today can save thousands of children right now but targeted research to develop new tools to combat severe diarrhea could save many more lives in the future.”

The GEMS findings also suggest that longer-term monitoring and care of children with diarrheal diseases could reduce mortality and developmental delays. Children with MSD grew significantly less in height in the two months following the diarrheal episode when compared with control children without diarrhea, and were 8.5 times more likely to die over the course of the two-month follow-up period. Notably, 61 percent of deaths occurred more than a week after the initial diarrheal episode, with 56 percent of deaths happening after families had returned home from a healthcare facility.

“GEMS strongly indicates that follow-up care after the initial diarrheal episode is critical to protect the health and wellbeing of children,” said Professor George Griffin, Senior Co-Chair of the GEMS International Strategic Advisory Committee and Professor at St. George’s, University of London. “By focusing only on the acute diarrhea that brings children to hospitals, we overlook a significant portion of diarrheal diseases’ burden.”

Expanding access to existing interventions that protect against or treat all diarrheal diseases, including oral rehydration solutions, zinc supplements, clean water and sanitation, can save lives and improve the health of children immediately.

“GEMS is a landmark study for the child health community,” said Professor Fred Binka, Co-Chair of the GEMS International S
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