Background: The severity of childhood gastroenteritis is generally believed to be age-related rather than aetiology-related. Rotavirus-induced gastroenteritis is more severe than gastroenteritis caused by other enteric pathogens and is also age-related. We thus addressed the question of whether the increased severity of rotavirus-induced gastroenteritis is related to age or to features intrinsic to the agent. Study design: In this multicentre, hospital-based, prospective survey, we evaluated the severity of diarrhoea in rotavirus-positive and rotavirus-negative children up to 4 years of age. Severity was assessed with a score in four groups of age-matched children. Results: Rotavirus was detected in 381 of 911 children. Disease severity was evaluated in 589 cases for which clinical data were complete. The rotavirus-positive and rotavirus-negative groups differed with regards to diarrhoea duration, hospital stay, degree of dehydration and the number of episodes of vomiting. Gastroenteritis was more severe in rotavirus-positive than in rotavirus-negative children. In contrast, none of the main severity parameters differed in the four age groups, irrespective of the presence of rotavirus. Conclusions: These data provide the evidence that aetiology and not age determines diarrhoeal severity. The demonstration that diarrhoea was more severe in rotavirus-positive children supports the need for a rotavirus vaccine and for studies that address the duration of vaccine protection.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health