SAMJ: South African Medical Journal
On-line version ISSN 2078-5135
Print version ISSN 0256-9574
WITTENBERG, D F. Management guidelines for acute infective diarrhoea/gastroenteritis in infants. SAMJ, S. Afr. med. j. [online]. 2012, vol.102, n.2, pp.104-107. ISSN 2078-5135.
BACKGROUND: Acute onset vomiting and diarrhoea is one of the most common illnesses of infancy, and is second only to respiratory illnesses as a cause of childhood deaths worldwide. Existing guidelines for management of diarrhoea are often ignored in public and private practice, possibly because of a perception that the guidelines are too simple, or because of expectations of the need to give 'real' drug therapy to stop diarrhoea. OBJECTIVES: This guideline provides a problem-based approach to the basics of present-day management of acute gastroenteritis, and discusses the evidence for the recommendations. RECOMMENDATIONS: Each episode of diarrhoea must be seen as an opportunity for caregiver education in the prevention of the illness, in the 'what' and 'how' of oral rehydration and re-feeding, and in the recognition of when to seek help. The vast majority of patients recover rapidly, but serious complications do occur and must be recognised and managed correctly. VALIDATION: The guidelines are endorsed by the Paediatric Management Group (PMG) in South Africa. CONCLUSION: The aim of management is to help the child to maintain or regain hydration, and to recover from diarrhoea, with careful attention to adequate oral rehydration and judicious re-feeding.