Oral Rehydration Therapy in Well-Nourished Ambulatory Children

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  • Division of Geographic Medicine, Departments of Medicine and Pediatrics, Baltimore City Hospitals and The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, St. Miguelito Policlinic and Gorgas Memorial Laboratory, Baltimore, Maryland 21205, Republic of Panama

Oral rehydration solutions (ORS) containing 90 mmol/liter or 50 mmol/liter of sodium have been successfully used in the treatment of hospitalized well-nourished and undernourished children; however, few data are available on the use of these ORS in well-nourished ambulatory children with minimal dehydration. We therefore compared the safety and efficacy of both ORS with standard outpatient management in a controlled, randomized study among 93 well-nourished children aged 3 months to 2 years, with minimal dehydration secondary to acute diarrhea at an outpatient clinic in Panama. Patients in all three groups were hydrated successfully. However, patients in both ORS groups gained significantly (P < 0.05) more weight at the 2-week follow-up compared to the control group. There were no complications due to the use of either ORS. No child developed hypernatremia nor hyponatremia during therapy. These studies indicate that both ORS (containing 90 or 50 mmol/liter of sodium) are effective and safe in hydrating well-nourished ambulatory children with minimal dehydration.