The association between Cryptosporidium, chronic diarrhoea and a proximal small intestinal mucosal enteropathy was reviewed over a six and a half year period. One hundred and twenty three children with cryptosporidiosis and no clinical evidence of immune deficiency were identified. 50% of children excreting only Cryptosporidium had chronic diarrhoea. Most cases (63%) of chronic diarrhoea occurred in the first two years of life. A mild to moderate enteropathy was present in all nine children undergoing a small intestinal biopsy and seven showed the presence of Cryptosporidium adhering to villous epithelium. All patients eventually recovered spontaneously. Cryptosporidium is a cause of chronic diarrhoea and a proximal small intestinal mucosal enteropathy in children without immune deficiency. Screening for the parasite should be part of the investigative procedures in children with chronic diarrhoea.
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