Management of childhood diarrhoea at the household level: A population-based survey in north-east Brazil

F. C. Barros, C. G. Victora, B. Forsberg, A. G K Maranhao, M. Stegeman, A. Gonzalez-Richmond, R. M. Martins, Z. A. Neuman, J. McAuliffe, J. A. Branco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The management of childhood diarrhoea at the household level was studied in a population-based survey in four states in north-east Brazil. Of a representative sample of 6524 children under 5 years of age, 982 (15.1%) had diarrhoea on the day of the interview or had had diarrhoea at some time during the previous 15 days. A total of 66% of the children were not taken for treatment, while government health services were used by 14%, private doctors by 1%, and traditional healers (rezadeiras) by 24%. Oral rehydration therapy was given to 24.3% of the children as follows: solutions of oral rehydration salts (ORS) were received by 6.8%, salt-and-sugar solutions by 14.7%, and solutions of commercial ORS brands by 4.8%. Although 95% of the caretakers knew about rehydration solutions, only 18% prepared them correctly, the most common error being the use of insufficient water. Of the rehydration solutions used, 39% had a sodium concentration that was potentially dangerous (> 120 mmol/l), and 8% had a sodium concentration that was very low. Of those solutions prepared using ORS, 38% had too high a sodium concentration, while 14% of the salt-and-sugar solutions prepared using either the 'scoop-and-pinch' approach or a plastic spoon were too concentrated. However, potentially the most dangerous were the salt-and-sugar solutions prepared using nonstandard recipes. More than half of these had an unacceptably high sodium concentration or osmolarity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)59-65
Number of pages7
JournalBulletin of the World Health Organization
Volume69
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1991
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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