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BACKGROUND: There is a limited understanding of how diarrhoeal cases across other household members influence the likelihood of diarrhoea in young children (aged 1-4 years). METHODS: We surveyed 16,025 individuals from 3421 households in 17 villages in Uganda. Using logistic regressions with standard errors clustered by household, diarrhoeal cases within households were used to predict diarrhoeal outcomes in young children. Regressions were adjusted for socio-demographic, water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH), and ecological covariates. Selection bias for households with (1632/3421) and without (1789/3421) young children was examined. RESULTS: Diarrhoeal prevalence was 13.7% (2118/16,025) across all study participants and 18.5% (439/2368) in young children. Young children in households with any other diarrhoeal cases were 5.71 times more likely to have diarrhoea than young children in households without any other diarrhoeal cases (95% CI: 4.48-7.26), increasing to over 29 times more likely when the other diarrhoeal case was in another young child (95% CI: 16.29-54.80). Diarrhoeal cases in older household members (aged ≥ 5 years) and their influence on the likelihood of diarrhoea in young children attenuated with age. School-aged children (5-14 years) had a greater influence on diarrhoeal cases in young children (Odds Ratio 2.70, 95% CI: 2.03-3.56) than adults of reproductive age (15-49 years; Odds Ratio 1.96, 95% CI: 1.47-2.59). Diarrhoeal cases in individuals aged ≥ 50 years were not significantly associated with diarrhoeal outcomes in young children (P > 0.05). These age-related differences in diarrhoeal exposures were not driven by sex. The magnitude and significance of the odds ratios remained similar when odds ratios were compared by sex within each age group. WASH factors did not influence the likelihood of diarrhoea in young children, despite influencing the likelihood of diarrhoea in school-aged children and adults. Households with young children differed from households without young children by diarrhoeal prevalence, household size, and village WASH infrastructure and ecology. CONCLUSIONS: Other diarrhoeal cases within households strongly influence the likelihood of diarrhoea in young children, and when controlled, removed the influence of WASH factors. Future research on childhood diarrhoea should consider effects of diarrhoeal cases within households and explore pathogen transmission between household members.

Original publication




Journal article


BMC Infect Dis

Publication Date





Clustering, Community, Diarrhoea, Household, Sanitation, Sub-saharan Africa, WASH, Water, Adult, Aged, Child, Child, Preschool, Cross-Sectional Studies, Diarrhea, Humans, Hygiene, Infant, Sanitation, Uganda, Water