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Revista da Associação Médica Brasileira

Print version ISSN 0104-4230On-line version ISSN 1806-9282


ANDRADE, J.A.B. de; OLIVEIRA, J.O.T. de  and  FAGUNDES NETO, U.. Lethality in hospitalized infants with acute diarrhea: risk factors associated to death. Rev. Assoc. Med. Bras. [online]. 1999, vol.45, n.2, pp.121-127. ISSN 0104-4230.

OBJECTIVES: Acute diarrhea is a very frequent disease in developing countries and is the first cause of death in infants under 2 years of age. This study was designed to evaluate the clinical and epidemiological factors associated to the death of 17 out of 511 infants hospitalized owing to severe acute diarrhea, between January 1989 and December 1995. PATIENTS AND METHODS: The patients were divided into two groups according to their clinical evolution: Group I - Death and Group II - Survival. The following parameters were evaluated: birth weight, sex, age, duration of diarrhea (days) prior to admission, nutritional status, hydration, presence of an enteropathogenic agent in the stools, food intolerance and duration of hospitalization. RESULTS: The analyzed factors have shown a significant association with death for the following variables: age, relative risk (RR)=4.0 for infants less than 6 months of age, identification of an enteropathogenic Escherichia coli (EPEC) strain in the stools (RR=3.3), severe malnutrition at admission to the hospital (RR=4.5), Occurrence of food intolerance during hospitalization (RR=2.7). Some enteropathogenic agent was identified in the stools of 253 (54.9%) infants, among the 461 (90.2%) studied. Group I revealed the presence of an enteropathogenic agent in 75% of the cases. The most frequent agents identified in Group I was: EPEC (56.3%) and Shigella (12.5%), while in Group II EPEC was identified in 26.5% of the patients. CONCLUSIONS: The association of some factors such as age less than 6 months, severe malnutrition, food intolerance and the identification of EPEC strains in the stool culture are indicators of high risk of death in infants hospitalized due to severe acute diarrhea.

Keywords : Acute diarrhea; Infants; Lethality; Risk factors of death.

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