How to prevent dehydration from gastroenteritis in babies?

Childhood gastroenteritis: almost always viral

Acute gastroenteritis is an extremely common infectious and inflammatory pathology of the digestive tract. It affects around 9% of SOS doctor consultations and affects 6% of children under the age of 5 each year.

pediatrician dr Dailland: “In the vast majority of cases, gastroenteritis is caused by viruses and is therefore very contagious”

However, in rare cases, it can be of bacterial origin. It is then usually caused by salmonella or campylobacter, one speaks more of food poisoning.

Average gastro duration: How long can gastro last in children?

While viral gastroenteritis usually lasts between 3 and 5 days, bacterial gastroenteritis can last longer, depending on the pathogen. Some bacteria cause food poisoning that can last for several weeks.
“Bacterial gastroenteritis is usually more severe, with higher fever, sometimes mucus or blood in the stool and a severe deterioration in general well-being,” describes the pediatrician.
It is then desirable to perform a stool culture to identify the germ responsible for the disease.

Symptoms: what are the signs of gastro in babies

The classic symptoms of acute gastroenteritis are:

– nausea,
– vomiting,
– liquid stools with increasing frequency – this is called diarrhea,
– stomach pain and abdominal cramps,
– more or less high fever,
– loss of appetite,
– Very tired.

The most characteristic of them is diarrhea, which is generally enough to provoke a diagnosis of gastroenteritis.

Risk of dehydration: when to worry about upset stomach in infants

The main danger of gastroenteritis in babies is dehydration. “The younger the child, the faster dehydration can set in and the consequences can be serious,” the pediatrician emphasizes.

Gastroenteritis in an infant less than one month old requires a visit to the pediatric emergency department to assess their hydration level and possibly give them an IV fluid for rehydration.

“For children between 2 and 4 monthsI recommend a quick consultation with the doctor‘ advises Dr. Dailland.

It should be more than 5 months watch for signs of dehydrationwho need to motivate a consultation in the emergency department:

  • Weight loss is an indicator of the toddler’s level of dehydration. If it is between 5 and 10% of the baby’s weight, it is said to be moderately dehydrated. If it exceeds 10%, it’s serious.

Other clinical signs may also indicate dehydration:

– sunken eyes,
– gray complexion,
– the absence of tears,
– dry tongue
– The lack of urine in the diaper in the morning.

The presence of mucus or blood in the child’s stool should also motivate a consultation with the doctor.

Caring for the child: what to give a baby who is vomiting with gastrointestinal vomiting?

Symptoms of gastroenteritis usually resolve spontaneously and without treatment in an average of 3 days.
Apart from paracetamol, which can be given to the baby if the fever is high, drug treatment is therefore not useful. A certain number of medicines prescribed for adults for gastroenteritis are also not recommended for children by the High Health Authority. This applies in particular to clay-based medicines such as Smecta®, but also Vogalène®, Primpéran® and Motilium®.

The main priority in the presence of gastroenteritis in a baby is to limit as much as possible its dehydration associated with vomiting and diarrhea. “I advise all parents to always have an oral rehydration solution (ORS) at home,” recommends the pediatrician.
These solutes come in the form of small sachets of powder that are diluted in 200ml of water and given to the baby in small amounts and at will. The solute can be mixed with a drop of fruit syrup to make drinking more pleasant. However, it should not be mixed with the child’s milk bottle.
In the absence of a rehydration solution — or if the child refuses to drink it — a mixture of apple juice and water in the same ratio provides essentially the same mineral salts and appears to be just as effective.

“On the other hand, Coca-Cola without bubbles is not a good remedy for the baby’s gastrointestinal tract, contrary to what we often hear: this drink is far too sweet to effectively rehydrate,” the pediatrician indicates.

Eating during the gastro: what to eat?

During gastroenteritis, the baby’s digestive tract is inflamed, so it’s important to take care of it and not irritate him further with indigestible or heavy food.

dr Dailland “If the child has no appetite, it is not desirable to force him: what is important is that he drinks and not that he eats. The risk is dehydration, not malnutrition!”

If the child asks for food, it is necessary to give preference to the most digestible foods – apple or quince compote, rice or rice cooking water, boiled carrots, boiled ham, vegetable broth – and avoid fats such as butter or oil.

Should I give up milk?

A 6-hour milk break with only rehydration solution is recommended for formula-fed infants. Babies under 3 months old can be placed on milk without cow’s milk protein, which is more digestible than their regular milk, on the advice of the pediatrician. “Between 3 and 6 months, the pediatrician may recommend lactose-free milk until the symptoms subside,” recommends Dr. Dailland.

If you are breastfeeding, infants should be breastfed more frequently to limit the risk of dehydration. In the event of severe vomiting and severe diarrhea, they are offered ORS between feedings either by pipette or bottle.

Yoghurts, on the other hand, are not contraindicated in gastroenteritis, on the contrary, the lactic ferments they contain are even useful for rebuilding the intestinal flora weakened by the disease.

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