Document Type



Women and Child Health; Paediatrics and Child Health


Background: Moderate-to-severe diarrhea (MSD) in the first 2 years of life can impair linear growth. We sought to determine risk factors for linear growth faltering and to build a clinical prediction tool to identify children most likely to experience growth faltering following an episode of MSD.
Methods: Using data from the Global Enteric Multicenter Study of children 0-23 months old presenting with MSD in Africa and Asia, we performed log-binomial regression to determine clinical and sociodemographic factors associated with severe linear growth faltering (loss of ≥ 0.5 length-for-age z-score [LAZ]). Linear regression was used to estimate associations with ΔLAZ. A clinical prediction tool was developed using backward elimination of potential variables, and Akaike Information Criterion to select the best fit model.
Results: Of the 5902 included children, mean age was 10 months and 43.2% were female. Over the 50-90-day follow-up period, 24.2% of children had severe linear growth faltering and the mean ΔLAZ over follow-up was - 0.17 (standard deviation [SD] 0.54). After adjustment for age, baseline LAZ, and site, several factors were associated with decline in LAZ: young age, acute malnutrition, hospitalization at presentation, non-dysenteric diarrhea, unimproved sanitation, lower wealth, fever, co-morbidity, or an IMCI danger sign. Compared to children 12-23 months old, those 0-6 months were more likely to experience severe linear growth faltering (adjusted prevalence ratio [aPR] 1.97 [95% CI 1.70, 2.28]), as were children 6-12 months of age (aPR 1.72 [95% CI 1.51, 1.95]). A prediction model that included age, wasting, stunting, presentation with fever, and presentation with an IMCI danger sign had an area under the ROC (AUC) of 0.67 (95% CI 0.64, 0.69). Risk scores ranged from 0 to 37, and a cut-off of 21 maximized sensitivity (60.7%) and specificity (63.5%).
Conclusion: Younger age, acute malnutrition, MSD severity, and sociodemographic factors were associated with short-term linear growth deterioration following MSD. Data routinely obtained at MSD may be useful to predict children at risk for growth deterioration who would benefit from interventions.


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Publication (Name of Journal)

BMC Medicine

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.