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Oral Rehydration Therapy for Kids: A More Palatable Alternative

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Parents no longer need to struggle to get their kids to drink electrolyte solutions during episodes of mild gastroenteritis; apple juice works just as well.


 

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A 3-year-old boy is brought in by his mother for vomiting and diarrhea that started in the middle of the night. On examination, he is slightly dehydrated but does not have an acute abdomen or other source of infection. He is drinking from a sippy cup. What fluids should you recommend?

Acute gastroenteritis is a common cause of vomiting and/or diarrhea in children, resulting in 1.5 million outpatient visits and 200,000 hospital admissions annually in the United States.2 Children with gastroenteritis are at risk for dehydration, and the recommended treatment for anything less than severe dehydration is oral rehydration therapy (ORT) and early resumption of feeding upon rehydration.2

In 2002, the World Health Organization recommended an ORT with an osmolarity of 245 mOsm/L.3 However, cultural preferences, cost, taste, availability, and caregiver and professional preference for IV hydration have all been barriers to the use of ORT.2,4-8In fact, a study of ORT preferences in 66 children ages 5 to 10 years found that less than half of the children would voluntarily drink the ORT again.5

This study evaluated the use of diluted apple juice as a more palatable alternative to ORT in children with vomiting and/or diarrhea.

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