Growth of bacteria greater than 10-5 organisms/ml was found in 22 children, of whom 17 gave a histroy of chronic diarrhoea. The other 8 children had either no diarrhoea or where having an acute attack lasting for a few days. In those with chronic diarrhoea, Esch. coli, bacteroides, and enterococci tended to occur more frequently, whereas streptococci occurred more frequently in those with acute diarrhoea. Bacilli, staphylococci, micrococci, klebsiellas, pseudomonads, and candidas often occurred in both groups and in large numbers in those with chronic diarrhoea. This confirms previous reports in other parts of the world that some children with malnutrition have considerable bacterial contamination of the jejunum, and that this may be of aetiological significance as a cause of much of the diarrhoea seen in malnourished children. It is possible too that this may be important in the pathogenesis of malnutrition. The presence of intestinal parasites in these malnourished children is also noted. A double-blind trial in the use of antibiotics in this condition is advocated to determine whether it is possible to break the diarrhoea-malabsorption-malnutrition cycle. At the same time the effect of simply removing the child to a more sanitary environment, together with an estimate of the natural clearance of bacteria from the upper intestine, should be evaluated.
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