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Infant morbimortality due to acute diarrhoea in a metropolitan area of northeastern Brazil

Six cross-sectional studies involving children under five years of age in three places on S. Luiz island, i.e., Vila Palmeira, Anjo da Guarda and S. José de Ribamar, were performed. A standardized questionnaire on the presence of diarrhoea in the previous 2 weeks was answered by the mothers or by those responsible for the children. Two population based studies (in May 1986 and May 1989) and four sample based surveys (in November of 1986, 1987 and 1988 and in May 1989) were carried out. The prevalence of diarrhoea was highest in May, 1986 and November, 1987. The highest prevalence occurred in S. José de Ribamar. The distribution of cases according to age showed a higher prevalence among children of 6-11 months and between 1 and 2 years of age. The prevalence of diarrhoea was highest among the families: that excreted directly into the sea or a latreen; that used water from uncovered wells; that threw their garbage into the sea; and whose bread-winners were unemployed. Diarrhoea was the principal cause of death in both surveys. Infant mortality, in May 1986, was 44.0 per thousand in children under 1 year of age and 12.8 in children under 5 years old; in May 1989 it was 7.9 per thousand and 4.9 per thousand respectively. The decrease in child morbidity and mortality due to diarrhoea between 1986 and 1989 was statistically significant.

Diarrhoea; Infant mortality

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