Persistent diarrhoea: current knowledge and novel concepts

Robert H.J. Bandsma, Kamran Sadiq, Zulfiqar A. Bhutta

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Persistent diarrhoea (PD), defined as diarrhoeal symptoms for longer than 2 weeks, still forms a substantial disease burden in children under 5 years of age. This article provides an overview of the current knowledge of PD and discusses novel concepts. Methods: A literature search on PD was performed which focused on evidence on epidemiology, pathophysiology and management of the disease. Results: The prevalence of PD has potentially decreased over the last decades. Debate remains around the role of specific bacterial, viral and parasitic infections with PD. PD is associated with malnutrition and a compromised immune system, including that caused by HIV infection. Management includes fluid resuscitation and improving nutritional status. There is a lack of evidence on the use of antibiotic therapy for PD. There is increasing interest in nutrient-based interventions, including pre- and/or probiotics that can modify the microbiome and thereby potentially prevent or improve the outcome of PD in children. Conclusion: As PD remains a significant health burden, multicentre clinical trials are needed to inform future treatment guidelines. Abbreviations: PD, persistent diarrhoea; EED, environmental enteric dysfunction; IBD, inflammatory bowel disease; WHO, World Health Organization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-47
Number of pages7
JournalPaediatrics and International Child Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2019


  • Persistent diarrhoea
  • environmental enteric dysfunction
  • malnutrition
  • microbiome


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