Millions of children die each year from dehydration – be prepared
The Rehydration Project at The Mother and Child Health and Education Trust, based in China, estimated that 2.2 million children around the world will die of dehydration caused by diarrhoea this year.1 Dehydration occurs when your body loses excess amounts of fluids and electrolytes. This is usually due to diarrhoea or gastroenteritis, but may also be due to other factors like not drinking enough liquids. Dehydration can be life-threatening, especially for infants, small children and elderly people.2
Diarrhoea can be caused by a number of factors - bacteria from contaminated food or water viruses, medicines such as antibiotics, and parasites, which are tiny organisms found in contaminated food or water.3 The Mother and Child Health and Education Trust statistics find that 42 000 children die each week from dehydration caused by diarrhoea, 6 000 each day, four every minute and one every 4 seconds.1 Dehydration can be treated by administering an Oral Electrolyte Replacement Solution (OER). According to the World Health Organisation’s recommendations of treatment of dehydration, oral rehydration solutions should continue to be offered for as long as the child continues to have diarrhoea.4
While the problem has not been intensely studied in South Africa, Vanessa Sew Chung Hong, Brand Manager for REHIDRAT® – the no1 recommended oral replacement solution in South Africa5 – says that the problem should be a major concern for mothers and their babies and recommends that they are adequately prepared for the possibility of dehydration as it can occur without any notice.
It’s vital to ensure that a suitable OER solution is on hand and forms an integral part of the families’ first aid kit. REHIDRAT® is packed in a sachet which makes it easy to carry around. It has a balanced formula of sugar and salts to replace lost electrolytes and so effectively treats dehydration. Parents are advised to contact their doctor if they see no improvement within 24 hours following the administration of an oral electrolyte solution.3
(REHIDRAT®, September 2011)