Largest ever diarrhea study highlights solutions
Findings published in The Lancet can guide prevention, treatment and research on diarrheal diseases, which claim the lives of 800 000 children annually
15 MAY 2013 — A new study published in The Lancet has pinpointed the primary causes and impact of diarrheal diseases—a leading cause of deaths among children globally—and has revealed new opportunities for intervention.
The Global Enteric Multicenter Study (GEMS) is the largest study ever conducted on diarrheal diseases in developing countries, enrolling more than 20 000 children from seven sites across Asia and Africa.
GEMS, coordinated by the University of Maryland School of Medicine’s Center for Vaccine Development, confirmed rotavirus – for which a vaccine already exists – as the leading cause of diarrheal diseases among infants and identified other top causes for which additional research is urgently needed. GEMS found that approximately one in five children under the age of two suffer from moderate-to-severe diarrhea (MSD) each year, which increased children’s risk of death 8.5-fold and led to stunted growth over a two-month follow-up period.
GEMS, coordinated by the University of Maryland School of Medicine’s Center for Vaccine Development, was a case-control study conducted at seven diverse, high-burden sites in Asia and Africa: the Gambia, Kenya, Mali, Mozambique, Bangladesh, India and Pakistan. The study enrolled 22,568 children under five years of age, a sample size that is large enough to provide comprehensive data on the causes, incidence and impact of the range of diarrheal diseases affecting children around the world.