Environmental enteric dysfunction (EED) has been recognised as an important contributing factor to physical and cognitive stunting, poor response to oral vaccines, limited resilience to acute infections and ultimately global childhood mortality. The aetiology of EED remains poorly defined but the epidemiology suggests a multifactorial combination of prenatal and early-life undernutrition and repeated infectious and/or toxic environmental insults due to unsanitary and unhygienic environments. Previous attempts at medical interventions to ameliorate EED have been unsatisfying. However, a new generation of imaging and ‘-omics’ technologies hold promise for developing a new understanding of the pathophysiology of EED. A series of trials designed to decrease EED and stunting are taking novel approaches, including improvements in sanitation, hygiene and nutritional interventions. Although many challenges remain in defeating EED, the global child health community must redouble their efforts to reduce EED in order to make substantive improvements in morbidity and mortality worldwide.
- environmental enteropathy
- environmental enteric dysfunction
- Tropical Paediatrics