Childhood Diseases

21 January 2011

Infant diarrhoea: take action

Hundreds of children die every die as a result of diarrhoea. There is fortunately a lot parents can do to prevent a tragedy.

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Hundreds of children die every die as a result of diarrhoea. There is fortunately a lot parents can do to prevent a tragedy.

The sugar-salt solution
The first step a parent should take, is to prevent loss of electrolytes and dehydration. This is a mixture you can make at home to help your child who has diarrhoea:

  • Wash all the utensils you need in clean water.
  • Wash your hands with clean soap and water.
  • Measure one litre of clean water.
  • Add 8 teaspoons of sugar and half a teaspoon of salt.
  • Mix until the sugar and salt are dissolved.

Under 2 years: give 50 to 100ml slowly after each loose stool.
Over 2 years: give 100 to 200ml slowly after each loose stool. If the child vomits the solution, wait 10 minutes and try again slowly.

Danger signs
Parents are advised to get to the clinic immediately if the child has any of these signs:

  • Child is not able to drink or breastfeed.
  • Child vomits everything that he/she drinks and eats.
  • Child is having convulsions/fits/spasms.
  • Child is weak and stares blankly.
  • You cannot wake the child.
  • Child has difficulty breathing.
  • Blood in the child's stools.

Health promotion tips

  • Wash hands after going to the toilet and before preparing food.
  • Prevent flies from landing on food by keeping dishes covered.
  • Continue breastfeeding the sick child.
  • Ensure that dirt, rubbish and toilets are covered and cleaned regularly.

(Ilse Pauw, Health24)

 

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Paediatrician

Prof Eugene Weinberg worked in the Paediatrics Department of the Red Cross Children’s Hospital for many years. He is presently a paediatric allergist at the Allergy Diagnostic Unit of the UCT Lung Institute in Mowbray.

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