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Volume 42, Number 3, June 2009

Epidemiology of diarrhea among young children: a questionnaire-based study in Taiwan

Chun-Wei Chang, Po-Yen Chen, Fang-Liang Huang
Division of Pediatric Infectious Disease, Department of Pediatrics, Taichung Veterans General Hospital, Taichung, Taiwan

Received: April 11, 2008    Revised: July 10, 2008    Accepted: July 30, 2008   


Corresponding author:

Dr. Po-Yen Chen, Department of Pediatrics, Taichung Veterans General Hospital, 160, Sec. 3, Chung-Kang Rd., Taichung 40705, Taiwan. E-mail: Dr. Po-Yen Chen This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it



Background and purpose: 

Acute diarrhea is the most common pediatric illness in Taiwan, despite the considerable improvements in hygiene. The aims of this study were to evaluate the epidemiology of diarrhea among children younger than 5 years in Taiwan, and to analyze the epidemiological changes since 1985.



A questionnaire survey was conducted from January 2007 to June 2007, which targeted children in hospital outpatient clinics in different parts of Taiwan. Parents of children younger than 5 years were invited to complete the questionnaire.




1200 questionnaires from North, Central, South, and East Taiwan were completed. The overall incidence of diarrhea was 55.78%. The incidence of diarrhea increased with age, from 15.45% among infants younger than 6 months to 82.22% of children aged from 4 to 5 years. There were no differences among the different regions of Taiwan. Most children experienced diarrhea during winter (37%) and spring (29%), which is compatible with the rotavirus season. Eighty five percent of children had less than 2 episodes of diarrhea each year.



This study demonstrated the possible epidemiological features of acute diarrhea among children younger than 5 years in Taiwan. The children’s ages and the seasonal distribution of diarrhea coincided with the pattern of rotavirus gastroenteritis seen in hospital-based studies. Since 1985, the frequency of diarrhea has reduced, and the peak age of diarrhea is older.


Key words:

Child, preschool; Diarrhea; Epidemiology; Infant; Questionnaires; Rotavirus



J Microbiol Immunol Infect. 2009;42:265-270.