Management strategies in the treatment of neonatal and pediatric gastroenteritis
Simona Ciccarelli,1 Ilaria Stolfi,1 Giuseppe Caramia2
1Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy; 2Division of Neonatology and Pediatrics, Maternal and Child Hospital "G. Salesi", Ancona, Italy
Abstract: Acute gastroenteritis, characterized by the onset of diarrhea with or without vomiting, continues to be a major cause of morbidity and mortality in children in mostly resource-constrained nations. Although generally a mild and self-limiting disease, gastroenteritis is one of the most common causes of hospitalization and is associated with a substantial disease burden. Worldwide, up to 40% of children aged less than 5 years with diarrhea are hospitalized with rotavirus. Also, some microorganisms have been found predominantly in resource-constrained nations, including Shigella spp, Vibrio cholerae, and the protozoan infections. Prevention remains essential, and the rotavirus vaccines have demonstrated good safety and efficacy profiles in large clinical trials. Because dehydration is the major complication associated with gastroenteritis, appropriate fluid management (oral or intravenous) is an effective and safe strategy for rehydration. Continuation of breastfeeding is strongly recommended. New treatments such as antiemetics (ondansetron), some antidiarrheal agents (racecadotril), and chemotherapeutic agents are often proposed, but not yet universally recommended. Probiotics, also known as “food supplement,” seem to improve intestinal microbial balance, reducing the duration and the severity of acute infectious diarrhea. The European Society for Paediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition and the European Society of Paediatric Infectious Diseases guidelines make a stronger recommendation for the use of probiotics for the management of acute gastroenteritis, particularly those with documented efficacy such as Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, Lactobacillus reuteri, and Saccharomyces boulardii. To date, the management of acute gastroenteritis has been based on the option of “doing the least”: oral rehydration-solution administration, early refeeding, no testing, no unnecessary drugs.
Keywords: acute infective gastroenteritis, diarrhea, oral rehydration solution, children, vomiting, probiotics
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