Global burden of childhood pneumonia and diarrhoea

Christa L. Fischer Walker, Igor Rudan, Li Liu, Harish Nair, Evropi Theodoratou, Zulfiqar A. Bhutta, Katherine L. O'Brien, Harry Campbell, Robert E. Black

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1597 Citations (Scopus)


Diarrhoea and pneumonia are the leading infectious causes of childhood morbidity and mortality. We comprehensively reviewed the epidemiology of childhood diarrhoea and pneumonia in 2010-11 to inform the planning of integrated control programmes for both illnesses. We estimated that, in 2010, there were 1•731 billion episodes of diarrhoea (36 million of which progressed to severe episodes) and 120 million episodes of pneumonia (14 million of which progressed to severe episodes) in children younger than 5 years. We estimated that, in 2011, 700 000 episodes of diarrhoea and 1•3 million of pneumonia led to death. A high proportion of deaths occurs in the fi rst 2 years of life in both diseases-72% for diarrhoea and 81% for pneumonia. The epidemiology of childhood diarrhoea and that of pneumonia overlap, which might be partly because of shared risk factors, such as undernutrition, suboptimum breastfeeding, and zinc defi ciency. Rotavirus is the most common cause of vaccine-preventable severe diarrhoea (associated with 28% of cases), and Streptococcus pneumoniae (18•3%) of vaccine-preventable severe pneumonia. Morbidity and mortality from childhood pneumonia and diarrhoea are falling, but action is needed globally and at country level to accelerate the reduction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1405-1416
Number of pages12
JournalThe Lancet
Issue number9875
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2013


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