Treatment of Acute Nonspecific Gastroenteritis of Infants and Young Children with Erythromycin

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  • Department of Microbiology and Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, University of Natal, Durban, South Africa

A double-blind placebo-controlled trial of erythromycin ethylsuccinate was conducted in 65 infants and young children hospitalized with acute nonspecific gastroenteritis. Etiologic agents included rotaviruses (29%), Campylobacter jejuni (17%), “classical” enteropathogenic Escherichia coli (12%), enterotoxigenic E. coli (11%), Salmonella (9%), Shigella (2%), and Giardia lamblia (2%). No pathogens were obtained from 25 (38%) children. Treatment with erythromycin had no effect on the course of the illness in terms of the time required for hydration, stool frequency and temperature to return to normal, or for vomiting to be abolished. Children treated with erythromycin, however, experienced a marginally, but significantly (P < 0.05), shorter period of abnormal stool consistency compared with control subjects. This effect was most pronounced in children from whom no enteropathogens were isolated.

Author Notes

Present address: Department of Microbiology, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria 3052, Australia. Send reprint requests to this address.