How can the risk of diarrhoea be reduced?

Diarrhoea is far less common with:

  • Breastfeeding to 6 months and longer if possible
  • A supply of clean water
  • Adequate sanitation (the safe disposal of faeces)
  • Cup-feeding rather than bottle-feeding if formula is used
  • Good personal hygiene, especially hand-washing before meals or handling food
  • Protecting food from flies

Breastfeeding, a clean safe water supply, appropriate hand-washing and good sanitation will prevent most cases of diarrhoea. Well nourished children are less likely to get severe diarrhoea than malnourished children. Breast milk contains many substances (antibodies and immune cells) which protect the gut from infection and it thereby protects the infant from diarrhoea caused by infection.

Breastfeeding is an important way of preventing diarrhoea in young infants.

Recent research shows that probiotics, such as bifidobacteria, added to formula feeds can reduce the risk of gastroenteritis.

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