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Sugary Drinks Do Not Help Vomiting Children

April 22, 2009

Experts say that parents are making children suffering from vomiting and diarrhea sicker by giving them flat coke and lemonade.

According to the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), it was a myth that sugary drinks could help ease bouts of gastroenteritis.

Instead, NICE said bad cases of stomach bugs in children under five need treatment with rehydration drinks.

The NHS advisers said that quick action was needed to avoid hospital admissions.

Half of all the children under five develop vomiting and diarrhea over the course of one year.

Almost a fifth of children will wind up seeing a health professional about the illness with about 40,000 children a year ending up hospitalized because of the problems related to dehydration.

According to NICE’s beliefs, some of the most serious cases could be avoided if parents and GPs followed the best advice.

Consultant pediatric gastroenterologist Dr Stephen Murphy, who chaired the panel drawing up the guidance, said, “The idea that flat coke and lemonade – or fruit juices for that matter – helps is just a myth. In fact, it can make it worse, but unfortunately people are still using them.”

“Severe cases of diarrhea and vomiting leading to dehydration need treating with oral rehydration solution immediately.”

The combination of sugar and salt in rehydration drinks was the key to helping the body absorb fluids, whereas the coke and lemonade had too much sugar, according to Murphy.

NICE has came up with a checklist for parents to asses whether their children are dehydrated.

Some key signs to dehydration are altered responsiveness, sunken eyes, pale or mottled skin and cold extremities.

If these symptoms are the case, then set amounts of oral rehydration solution should be given over the course of four hours.

The guidance said, that the amount to be given depends on the child, but for the average one-year-old it would be half a liter.

NICE said that afterwards, it is important that children are encouraged to eat food again.

Also, the guidance is aimed at doctors and gives advice on when to carry out further tests and when and how to administer intravenous rehydration fluid.

Narynder Johal, a mother-of-three who acted as a patient representative for NICE, said the guidance was needed as parents were often left frustrated by the advice that was given.

“I have often been very concerned when my children have had diarrhea and vomiting and have not always received consistent advice on how to best manage the condition.”

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