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Child Development NICE Issues Guidance to Help Assess and Treat Children with Gastroenteritis

Posted Apr 30 2009 1:07pm
By Colleen Hurley, RD, Certified Kids Nutrition Specialist Even though springtime is here, kids are still not out of the woods for catching bacteria and flu bugs. Over the winter months, Mum Mums featured how to boost kids immunity as well as protocols for treating common cold and flu symptoms. No protocols were discussed yet for upset tummy type of symptoms, but a new set of guidelines has been issued to help parents and caregivers of kids with gastroenteritis. Gastroenteritis is a catch all term used for irritation or infection of the digestive tract, in particular the stomach and intestines. Typically, gastroenteritis is referred to as the stomach flu with symptoms that include nausea, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and occasionally a fever. These symptoms usually subside within a few days without lasting effects but vulnerable populations such as children and the elderly are more susceptible to complications such as dehydration. Because of the risk of complications kids under five years of age face with gastroenteritis, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) in conjunction with the National Collaborating Centre for Womens and Childrens health have issued new protocol guidelines. The guidelines give healthcare professionals consistent advice on poignant issues like fluid intake, preventing and managing dehydration, as well as nutritional management. The guidelines also provide recommendations for parents and caregivers as to when care needs to be escalated; essentially from home management all the way to hospital admission. While many children get better quickly, some do develop dehydration so the guidelines will help both caregivers and healthcare professionals decide when further treatment is needed so children get the right care at the right time. Key points of the guidelines include continuing to breastfeed and encouraging fluid intake but to avoid intake of fruit juices and carbonated beverages. If the child becomes dehydrated, there are specific protocols for doctors and hospitals to follow to rehydrate. Once hydrated parents can resume regular milk feedings, reintroduce solid foods while still leaving out fruit juices until diarrhea has stopped. In addition parents, caregivers, and children are strongly advised to wash hands frequently with soap under warm water to avoid spreading gastroenteritis. Hands should be washed after using the toilet, changing diapers, and before preparing or eating food.
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