Oral Rehydration in Infantile Diarrhoea in the Developed World
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- Mackenzie, A. & Barnes, G. Drugs (1988) 36(Suppl 4): 48. doi:10.2165/00003495-198800364-00008
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Acute diarrhoea is an important health problem in developed countries, particularly in young children. The attack rates for viral diarrhoea are similar in developed and developing countries. Rotavirus is the most common pathogen, followed by adenovirus. Bacterial diarrhoea is less common in developed than developing countries. The 2 most common bacterial pathogens are Campylobacter jejuni and Salmonella. The most serious consequence of diarrhoea is dehydration, and the treatment for this is the same whatever the pathogen. Recently, there have been major changes in the management of diarrhoea with emphasis on oral rehydration and early feeding. Two controversial areas are the sodium content of solutions designed for developed countries and the best route of administration of fluids to children with moderately severe dehydration. There have been 4 randomised controlled trials in developed countries comparing oral and intravenous rehydration. The findings have confirmed the experience in developing countries that most children without shock can be rehydrated orally, thus substantially reducing the need for intravenous fluids. It is important to give physiologically balanced solutions which contain 2% glucose and 50 to 90 mmol/L of sodium. Many of the commercially available oral solutions are appropriate for rehydration and maintenance ofhydration in infants with diarrhoea of all types. They are recommended particularly for the prevention of dehydration in children of all ages with severe diarrhoea and for the treatment of dehydration. Children with mild diarrhoea and no dehydration can be given commercial clear fluids diluted with water, or homemade solutions made with table sugar and water. Salt must not be used. Babies should continue on breast milk or formula with extra water. Education is the key to successful oral rehydration, and the ultimate aim should be the prevention of dehydration.