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An article published in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports discussed that acute gastroenteritis remains a common illness in infants and children throughout the world. Among children in the United States, acute diarrhea accounts for > 1.5 million outpatient visits, 200 000 hospitalizations and approximately 300 deaths/year. In developing countries, diarrhea is a common cause of mortality among children aged < 5 years, with an estimated 2 million deaths annually.
Oral rehydration therapy (ORT) includes rehydration and maintenance fluids with oral rehydration solutions (ORS), combined with continued age-appropriate nutrition. Although ORT has been instrumental in improving health outcomes among children in developing countries, its use has lagged behind in the United States.
The authors reported that recent developments in the science of gastroenteritis management have substantially altered case management. Physicians now recognize that zinc supplementation can reduce the incidence and severity of diarrheal disease, and an ORS of reduced osmolarity (i.e., proportionally reduced concentrations of sodium and glucose) has been developed for global use. The combination of oral rehydration and early nutritional support has proven effective throughout the world in treating acute diarrhea.
The present article reviewed the historical background and scientific basis of ORT and provides a framework for assessing and treating infants and children who have acute diarrhea.
Source: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports. Recommendations and Reports. 2003 Nov 21;52(RR-16):1-16.