Objectives: These guidelines update and extend evidence-based indications for the management of children with acute gastroenteritis in Europe.
Methods: The guideline development group formulated questions, identified data, and formulated recommendations. The latter were graded with the Muir Gray system and, in parallel, with the Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development and Evaluations system.
Results: Gastroenteritis severity is linked to etiology, and rotavirus is the most severe infectious agent and is frequently associated with dehydration. Dehydration reflects severity and should be monitored by established score systems. Investigations are generally not needed. Oral rehydration with hypoosmolar solution is the major treatment and should start as soon as possible. Breast-feeding should not be interrupted. Regular feeding should continue with no dietary changes including milk. Data suggest that in the hospital setting, in non-breast-fed infants and young children, lactose-free feeds can be considered in the management of gastroenteritis. Active therapy may reduce the duration and severity of diarrhea. Effective interventions include administration of specific probiotics such as Lactobacillus GG or Saccharomyces boulardii, diosmectite or racecadotril. Anti-infectious drugs should be given in exceptional cases. Ondansetron is effective against vomiting, but its routine use requires safety clearance given the warning about severe cardiac effects. Hospitalization should generally be reserved for children requiring enteral/parenteral rehydration; most cases may be managed in an outpatients setting. Enteral rehydration is superior to intravenous rehydration. Ultrarapid schemes of intravenous rehydration are not superior to standard schemes and may be associated with higher readmission rates.
Conclusions: Acute gastroenteritis is best managed using a few simple, well-defined medical interventions.