Merck Manual

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Overview of Gastrointestinal Disorders in Neonates and Infants


William J. Cochran

, MD, Geisinger Clinic

Last full review/revision Mar 2020| Content last modified Mar 2020
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Gastrointestinal disorders can affect neonates and infants:

Infectious gastroenteritis is the most common pediatric gastrointestinal disorder. About 3 to 5 billion episodes occur worldwide each year, most commonly in developing countries among children < 5 years of age. Death due to diarrhea and dehydration occurs in about 1.5 to 2.5 million children per year. In the US, more than 350 million cases of infectious gastroenteritis occur annually, resulting in 100 to 300 deaths. About 2% of children in developed countries will require hospitalization at some time because of acute gastroenteritis and dehydration. In the US, acute gastroenteritis accounts for an estimated 200,000 hospitalizations and 1.5 million outpatient visits at a cost in excess of 2 billion dollars. The incidence of rotavirus gastroenteritis, which was the most common viral cause, has decreased by 58 to 90% because of routine administration of the rotavirus vaccines. Norovirus is now the leading cause of acute gastroenteritis in children in the US (1).

General reference

  • 1. Sattar SBA, Singh S: Bacterial gastroenteritis [Updated 2019 Mar 8]. In StatPearls (Internet). Treasure Island, StatPearls Publishing, 2020.

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