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Chronic non-specific diarrhoea.
  1. E Savilahti,
  2. O Simell


    Recurrent, unexplained diarrhoea is the most common intestinal complaint in children aged 6 months to 3 years. We studied 27 consecutive children with this complaint and followed them up until the age of 5 years. Diarrhoea began at the mean age of 9 months (range 4 to 16 months) and resolved in 21 children by 3 years of age. Twelve children had had infantile colic earlier. In six patients diarrhoea was caused by food allergy (cows' milk allergy and allergy to fresh vegetables). Episodes of diarrhoea persisted in four of these six. Twenty one children had unexplained diarrhoea: this resolved in 19. Nutritional deficiencies were rare; only one child had iron deficiency. Relative weights of the children were significantly lower at 2 years than at 1 year of age. At 5 years of age six of the children continued to have episodes of diarrhoea, and abdominal pains, headaches, and atopy occurred more commonly than in the general population. We suggest that there are two major subgroups among children with recurrent diarrhoea--children with food allergy and those who react to environmental stresses with a variety of somatic symptoms.

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