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Dialogue Diarrhoea. 1988 Dec;(35):6.

Correct measures: home-made ORS.



Home-made oral rehydration salts solutions can be dangerous to infants if the mixture contains too much sugar or salt. The great variability of sugar and salt concentrations largely results from the use of different sized measuring instruments. This problem was analyzed further in 2 groups of mothers from Zimbabwe. Group A included 70 women attending 2 rural health clinics; Group B was comprised of 50 women living on remote farms. Almost all of the mothers in both groups were aware of the national policy for preparing the rehydration solution, which is to add 6 level teaspoons of sugar and half a level teaspoon of salt to 750 ml of water. Mothers in Group A were shown 7 teaspoons and asked to select a spoon similar to the 1 they used at home; women in Group B used their own teaspoons, which were all alike and very flat. Mothers in Group A, who had to choose a spoon, prepared solutions with too much sugar and salt, while women in Group B produced concentrations closer to the standard values. 61% of mothers in Group A compared with only 12% of mothers in Group B prepared solutions containing over 90 mmol of sodium per liter. Women in both groups were then asked to measure sugar and salt using commonly available soft-drink bottle tops. This measure produced more consistent concentrations of sugar and salt, and only 11% of Group A mothers and 8% of Group B mothers prepared solutions containing too much sodium. Since the bottle top is widely available in rural Zimbabwe and gives reliable measurements, it should be considered as a standard device for preparing oral rehydration solution.

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