The use of oral rehydration salts (ORS) to restore fluid balance in children with diarrhoea is universally accepted. However, there is uncertainty about whether glucose-based ORS or ORS based on precooked rice powder is more effective. In a randomised trial we compared the two types of ORS in children who were given food immediately after completion of rehydration. 460 boys aged 3-18 months, admitted to hospital with acute diarrhoea and signs of dehydration, were randomly assigned to groups receiving rice-based and glucose-based ORS solution (230 to each group). After full rehydration (4-12 h), a weaning food consisting of rice and mixed vegetables was given until the diarrhoea stopped. Continuing losses of liquid stool and vomitus were replaced with the assigned ORS solution. There were no differences between the groups during the rehydration phase in stool volume, volume of ORS solution taken, duration of rehydration phase, or weight gain. However, after initiation of feeding, the glucose-based ORS group had significantly lower stool volumes than the rice-based ORS group (142 [95% Cl 117-173] vs 96 [77-120] g/kg); they also took a smaller amount of ORS solution (153 [127-185] vs 111 [90-136] mL/kg) and had a shorter duration of diarrhoea (55 [SD 35] vs 44  h). Glucose-based ORS solution was more effective than rice-based ORS solution for the treatment of diarrhoea in children when feeding with a rice-based diet was started soon after correction of dehydration. These results support the continued recommendation of glucose-based ORS solution as standard therapy for treatment of children with acute diarrhoea and emphasise the importance of resuming feeding as soon as dehydration has been corrected.
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