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Revista Brasileira de Epidemiologia

Print version ISSN 1415-790X


VASCONCELOS, Maria Josemere de Oliveira Borba  and  BATISTA FILHO, Malaquias. Diarrheal disease in children under five years of age in the State of Pernambuco, Brazil: prevalence and utilization of health services. Rev. bras. epidemiol. [online]. 2008, vol.11, n.1, pp.128-138. ISSN 1415-790X.

The aim of the present cross-sectional population study involving 2,074 children under five years of age in the state of Pernambuco, Brazil (Metropolitan Recife - MR; Urban Inland - UI; Rural Inland - RI) was to comparatively assess the prevalence of diarrhea as well as the implications of the disease regarding outpatient appointments and hospitalizations. The study proposed to establish a baseline for assessing temporal trends of the problem. The sample was determined probabilistically and distributed among 18 municipalities throughout the state, five of which were located in MR. The remaining 13 municipalities were located in the state's rural and urban inland areas (plantation region; transition region and semi-arid region). The highest occurrence (22.7% in the previous two weeks) and greatest demand placed upon outpatient care (8.6% in the past 03 months) were found in the UI, whereas hospitalizations in a 12-month retrospective survey (4.1% of the children studied) were more prevalent in the RI. Throughout the state of Pernambuco, it was estimated that for every one hundred cases of diarrhea, there was a rate of 0.44 hospitalizations, with greater frequencies in MR. Taking as reference the international commitment Brazil has taken with the United Nations (UNICEF 1990) for the past decade, one may conclude that diarrhea remains a relevant public health problem throughout the entire state of Pernambuco and continues to place a heavy burden primarily upon outpatient clinics and secondarily on hospital services.

Keywords : Epidemiology of diarrhea; Children; Medical care.

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