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Vaccine for Childhood Diarrhea Helps Kids, Saves Dollars
Date:9/22/2011

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 21 (HealthDay News) -- Since the 2006 introduction of routine inoculation against rotavirus -- a leading cause of diarrhea in infants and young children -- almost 65,000 fewer American children have been hospitalized and about $278 million in healthcare costs have been saved, according to new research.

The vaccine targets rotavirus, a common and easily transmitted pathogen. The new study, from a team at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), found that there were 89 percent fewer rotavirus-specific hospitalizations in children who had gotten the vaccine compared to unvaccinated children.

"Diarrhea causes by rotavirus is one of the most common illnesses in children. It's usually self-limited and treated at home, but before the vaccine was introduced, the virus was responsible for about 200,000 emergency room visits and 400,000 physician office visits a year," noted the study's senior author, Dr. Umesh Parashar, a medical epidemiologist and team leader of the viral gastroenteritis team at the CDC in Atlanta.

Before routine rotavirus inoculations in 2006, the virus was associated with 20 to 60 deaths a year in children under 5 in the United States -- although that figure was much higher in developing countries. "In the U.S., with good access to healthcare, we can prevent the worse outcomes from diarrheal illness. Globally, there are about a half a million deaths caused by this pathogen," Parashar added.

Results of the study are published in the Sept. 22 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

In 1998, the first rotavirus vaccine became available. However, it was quickly withdrawn from the market when otherwise healthy babies began to develop a condition known as intussusception. This condition causes the bowel to fold into itself, much like a telescope, triggering an often life-threatening bowel obstruction. The v
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