Persistent diarrhoea, a serious health problem, is closely related to malnutrition. Children with severe malnutrition have a 9-fold risk of death, and children with severe stunting have a 4-fold risk of death. Prolonged mucosal injury from diarrhoea causes reduced secretin and cholecystokinin secretion, which decreases stimulation to the pancreas, and is indicated by faecal elastase-1 levels. This further aggravates persistent diarrhoea and malnutrition because of the low levels of digestive enzyme production. This study evaluated the exocrine function of the pancreas in children with persistent diarrhoea and malnutrition. Methods and Study Design: This study used a cross-sectional design to compare exocrine pancreatic function among children with persistent diarrhoea, children with malnutrition, and apparently healthy children as reference Children aged 6-60 months were selected from the inpatient and outpatient units of various general hospitals in Jakarta. Faecal elastase- 1 levels were used to determine exocrine pancreatic function. Results: The median values of faecal elastase- 1 in children with persistent diarrhoea, children with malnutrition, and reference children were 743 (1-1503) mcg/g, 861 (17-2909) mcg/g, and 1210 (26-3000) mcg/g, respectively. A significant difference was observed in the faecal elastase-1 levels between reference children and those with persistent diarrhoea (p<0.001). However, no differences in the faecal elastase-1 levels were noted between malnourished and reference children (p%+0.05). Children with both persistent diarrhoea and malnutrition showed mean FE-1 392.3>206.9 and median 419 (125-593). Conclusions: Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency is found in children with persistent diarrhoea. Children with combined persistent diarrhoea and malnutrition have the lowest FE-1, to which persistent diarrhea has the most significant contribution.
- Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency
- Faecal elastase-1
- Persistent diarrhoea