June 5, 2020

Children More Likely to Suffer Foodborne Illness

A new study published in the Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal has shown that children who are younger than five years of age are more likely to suffer from foodborne illness than adults. The study looked at data from Prevention’s Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network (FoodNet) and the CDC.

Child Food PoisoningChildren are automatically included in the high risk groups for foodborne pathogens, along with the elderly, those with chronic illnesses, and those with compromised immune systems because their immune systems are underdeveloped. The study’s authors thought that the higher rates of illness among children may be explained by “higher rates of medical care-seeking and stool sample submission in this age group.” But the illness rates for children were higher even after adjusting for under diagnosis.

Researchers studied five bacterial enteric pathogens: Campylobacter, E. coli 0157, nontyphoidal Salmonella, Shigella, and Yersinia enterocolitica. Those five bacteria caused 102,746 doctor’s visits, 7,830 hospitalizations, and 64 deaths each year among children less than five years old. Nontyphoidal Salmonella caused the most illnesses, followed by Campylobacter, Shigella, Y. enterocolitica, and E. coli 0157.

Parents should oversee their child’s hand washing before eating and after bathroom use, and should avoid giving children undercooked ground meat, unpasteurized milk, and other high risk foods such as sushi and raw or undercooked eggs. When children are sick with vomiting or diarrhea, keep them at home to avoid transmission to other children.


  1. Muwonge Joseph says

    Thank you for this bulletin; I am an upcoming Public Health Researchers from Makerere University, School of Public Health. I am really interested in the health of children under the age of five. This information has helped me, since am writing a research concept on the role of caretakers in the prevention of food borne illness in under-five children in Uganda. Please keep me posted on any new finding.
    Thank you

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