What is the most common cause of diarrhea in children?

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Howard I. Baron, MD
Pediatric Gastroenterology
The most common cause of diarrhea in children is viral, says Howard Baron, MD, a pediatric gastroenterologist at Sunrise Hospital. In this video, he describes causes of diarrhea in children, including bacterial infections and parasitic diseases.

Rotavirus is the most common infectious cause of diarrhea in children, although several other viruses are to blame as well. It occurs most often during the winter months; many parents refer to this type of infection as the “stomach flu.” The typical course is fever and vomiting for a few days often followed by green, foul-smelling, watery diarrhea for a week or sometimes even longer.

Older children and adults (who have stronger immune systems) may get lucky and only have mild symptoms, but many younger children can have serious vomiting and diarrhea. Small children in particular are more likely to be hospitalized from dehydration caused by rotavirus. It can spread like wildfire throughout child care centers and preschools where children are in close contact with each other, leading to increased risk of spreading and sharing germs.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.