Neonatology pp 1355-1363 | Cite as

Gastroenteritis and Intractable Diarrhea in Newborns

  • Andrea De LucaEmail author
  • Giacomo Zanelli
Reference work entry


Gastroenteritis (GE) still represents a major cause of morbidity and mortality in children worldwide. Although the implementation of effective measures resulted in a significant decrease of global mortality, much remains to be done. The burden of GE in the neonatal age is generally reduced in relation to some protective factors (breastfeeding, minimal exposure to water and contaminated food, passive maternal immunity). In newborns, the contribution of the various causative agents could differ from that of the other pediatric age groups, nevertheless Rotavirus and pathogenic strains of E. coli remain the main etiologies. The acquisition of the pathogen generally occurs through the contaminated birth canal or by the use of contaminated tools, objects, or hands of the caregivers. The clinical presentation may vary widely from an acute, self-limiting disease to life-threatening complicated infections. The assessment of the dehydration and its rapid correction represent the cornerstones of the management of any GE. Antibiotic therapy should be reserved to cases with systemic symptoms, severe dehydration, or in the presence of bloody diarrhea. While the occurrence of diarrhea in the neonatal age is mainly caused by acute gastrointestinal infections, differential diagnosis with several other diseases including forms of severe congenital disorders should be considered.


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Medical BiotechnologiesUniversity of SienaSienaItaly
  2. 2.UOC Malattie Infettive UniversitarieAzienda Ospedaliera Universitaria SeneseSienaItaly

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