Babies and acute diarrhea

July 2017

Babies and acute diarrhea

Diarrhea is quite common in children: symptoms can vary from mild loose stool to watery explosive diarrhea. Diarrhea is 3 or more soft or liquid stools in 24 hours and in more severe cases medical intervention is required.
  • Diarrhoea is usually viral in origin and accounts for more than 90% of cases. Rotavirus is the most common, which is a virus that can cause infections of the gastrointestinal tract and upper respiratory tract such as tonsillitis and ear infections.
  • Diarrhoea and vomiting together with a fever can also be a sign of urinary tract infection, pneumonia, and meningitis.
  • Viral diarrhoea usually lasts 2 to 3 days.
  • Diarrhoea caused by bacteria are food poisoning germs such as Shigella, Salmonella and Campylobacter. Vomiting and a high fever often accompany the diarrhoea and they sometimes require antibiotic treatment.
  • The danger of acute diarrhoea is dehydration and weight loss.

It is essential to monitor the child's weight from the first signs of a diarrhoea. When it exceeds 5% of the weight of the baby, it is urgent to seek medical advice.

Recognising the first signs of dehydration

When weight loss reaches or exceeds 10% of a baby's weight, signs of dehydration appear :
  • Decreased urinary output
  • Deep set eyes and circles under the eyes
  • Tiredness
  • Floppy and lethargic
  • Dry tongue
  • Depressed fontanelles

Oral rehydration salts (ORS) and fluids to avoid acute dehydration

  • A baby that is dehydrated is thirsty and needs to drink. Giving a baby only water to drink will not prevent dehydration.
  • It is important for you to encourage your child to drink plenty. You must continue with breast or bottle-feeding.
  • In addition to fluids, ORS are necessary. They can be purchased from a pharmacy and sachets are made up with freshly boiled and cooled water for children less than one year.
  • Only 70% of children with diarrhoea symptoms take ORS. In order to prevent dehydration all children with liquid watery stool should take oral rehydration salts.
  • 1 powder sachet of the solution should be reconstituted with 2OO ml of water (freshly boiled and cooled water if under one year).

The solution is given to a baby 50ml per kilogram over 4 hours as well as maintenance fluids. ORS should be given frequently, in small amounts. Continue ORS at a rate of 10 ml/kilo after each watery stool.

Seek urgent medical help if your child is showing signs of dehydration


Diarrhée aigue du nourrisson
Diarrhée aigue du nourrisson
La diarrea aguda del bebé
La diarrea aguda del bebé
Akuter Durchfall bei Babys
Akuter Durchfall bei Babys
Latest update on July 24, 2013 at 01:04 PM by Jeff.
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