Updated Cochrane review: Polymer-based ORS for treating acute watery diarrhoea

Cochrane researchers updated a review about treating diarrhoea in children. This review was first published in 2009. This new edition of the review includes a new study, and uses more recent Cochrane methods, but the findings have changed little since 2009.

In some homes, mothers use water mixed with cooked rice, wheat, or maize to give to their children when they are sick with diarrhoea. Children may like this more than salt and sugar solution, which is the standard medical treatment given. This updated Cochrane Review aimed to look at the evidence comparing these “food-based” rehydration solutions with the standard sugar and salt solution. It included 35 studies.

Older included studies compared food-based rehydration solutions with older formulas of the sugar-salt solution that were more concentrated.  There was some evidence that the food-based solutions were better, but differences were small.

Also, some older studies compared food-based rehydration solutions with the current standard global formula for sugar-salt solution. This may reduce the length of time children had diarrhoea, but there were not many included studies and we are not very certain about the results.

The results of this review mean that using food-based solutions certainly doesn’t do any harm, and could be more effective than sugar-salt.

This Cochrane Review update is a comprehensive summary on this topic, but the studies and findings are reasonably well known by child health professionals.

Access the full-text article here: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD006519.pub3/full