Associations between long-term drought and diarrhea among under-five children


eMediNexus    16 December 2022

Climate change may amplify drought conditions, which may further increase the risk of diarrheal diseases in children. The present study constructed log-binomial generalized linear mixed models to investigate the association between diarrhea risk and drought among children under five in 51 low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). 


It found an association between exposure to a 6-month mild or severe drought and an increased diarrhea risk of 5% or 8%, respectively. This association stood stronger among children living in a household that needed a longer time to collect water or with no access to water or soap/detergent for handwashing. The association for 24-month drought was stronger in dry zones but weaker or null in tropical or temperate zones, whereas that for 6-month drought only occurred in tropical or temperate zones. 


This study showed the associations between exposure to long-term drought and elevated diarrhea risk among children under five in LMICs. It also suggests that this risk could be decreased through improved water, sanitation, and hygiene practices, which should be urgently commenced due to the possible increase in drought due to climate change.


Wang P, Asare E, Pitzer VE. et al. Associations between long-term drought and diarrhea among children under five in low- and middle-income countries. Nat Commun. 2022; 13. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-022-31291-7

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