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J Paediatr Child Health. 1995 Jun;31(3):189-91.

Home-based management of children hospitalized with acute gastroenteritis.

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Department of Paediatrics, John Hunter Hospital, New Lambton Heights, Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia.



To determine the source of medical advice to parents and treatment administered at home for children admitted to hospital with acute gastroenteritis.


A questionnaire was completed by the parents of 231 children admitted during a 12 month period.


The majority of children had seen their family doctor or an after-hours doctor prior to admission. Clear fluids were used for two-thirds but an oral rehydration solution (ORS) was used in only one-third of children. Medications were used for half, including antibiotics (19%), antidiarrhoeals (9%), antiemetics (7%) and paracetamol (27%). Inpatient assessment suggested that the majority of children had no or mild dehydration.


Appropriate oral rehydration is underutilized and medications are overprescribed for the treatment of acute gastroenteritis. Family doctors continue to be the major source of advice for parents. Increased use of ORS at home may reduce hospitalization rates but attempts to change these practices should be directed at parents and family doctors.

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