Parental management of childhood diarrhea

Clin Pediatr (Phila). 2009 Apr;48(3):295-303. doi: 10.1177/0009922808327057. Epub 2008 Nov 20.


The objective was to determine the prevalence of therapies used by parents to manage acute diarrhea in their children and determine extent of parental adherence to current management guidelines and utilization of functional foods. Parents (N=623) of children with diarrhea were surveyed in a tertiary care pediatric emergency department. Most (53%) treated their child's diarrhea with appropriate fluids, including oral rehydration solution (52%), but 14% used treatments not recommended in current guidelines (antidiarrheals, 8%; fluids high in simple sugars, 6%). In addition, 13% used functional foods (yogurt, 11%; probiotics, 4%). Children whose parents did not adhere to guidelines were older (OR 1.02; 95% CI 1.01-1.02 years) and Hispanic (OR 2.1; 95% CI 1.1-3.9). Although most parents use appropriate fluids to treat their children's diarrhea, functional foods and antidiarrheal medications were also frequently administered. Further data on effectiveness of functional foods and education regarding avoidance of potentially harmful medications are needed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Antidiarrheals / therapeutic use
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diarrhea / diet therapy*
  • Diarrhea / drug therapy
  • Diarrhea / therapy*
  • Female
  • Fluid Therapy
  • Guideline Adherence*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Parents*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Probiotics / therapeutic use
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Antidiarrheals