New Estimates of Rotavirus-Attributable Diarrhea Mortality

In 2008, there were 453,000 deaths worldwide in children under 5 years; most in five countries

TUESDAY, Oct. 25 (HealthDay News) -- Worldwide in 2008, 453,000 deaths in children younger than 5 years old resulted from diarrhea attributable to rotavirus, according to a meta-analysis published online Oct. 25 in The Lancet Infectious Diseases.

Jacqueline E. Tate, Ph.D., from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and colleagues reviewed available literature to estimate the worldwide rotavirus-related deaths in children younger than 5 years in 2008, before the introduction of a universal rotavirus vaccination program. Studies with at least 100 children younger than age 5 who were hospitalized with diarrhea were included. Data from countries that participated in the World Health Organization-coordinated Global Rotavirus Surveillance Network and met the study criteria were also analyzed. The studies were classified into five categories on the basis of region, and the level of child mortality where the study was conducted. Rotavirus-associated mortality in each group was estimated, and regional mortality estimates were added to derive a worldwide estimate.

The investigators found that, worldwide in 2008, 453,000 deaths were attributable to rotavirus-induced diarrhea in children younger than 5 years. These accounted for 37 percent of diarrhea-attributed deaths and 5 percent of all deaths in children younger than 5 years. The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, India, Nigeria, and Pakistan accounted for more than half of all deaths attributable to rotavirus infection, with India alone accounting for 22 percent of deaths.

"Our new estimates can be used to advocate for rotavirus vaccine introduction and to monitor the effect of vaccination on mortality once introduced," the authors write.

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