Antiemetics in Children With Acute Gastroenteritis: A Meta-analysis

Pediatrics. 2020 Apr;145(4):e20193260. doi: 10.1542/peds.2019-3260. Epub 2020 Mar 4.


Context: Several antiemetics have been used in children with acute gastroenteritis. However, there is still controversy over their use.

Objective: To determine the effectiveness and safety of antiemetics for controlling vomiting in children with acute gastroenteritis.

Data sources: Medline, Embase, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, Latin America and the Caribbean Literature on Health Sciences, and gray literature, until December 2018.

Study selection: We selected randomized clinical trials comparing metoclopramide, ondansetron, domperidone, dexamethasone, dimenhydrinate, and granisetron.

Data extraction: Two reviewers independently screened abstracts and full texts, extracted the data, and assessed the risk of bias. We performed pairwise and network meta-analysis using the random-effects model.

Results: Twenty-four studies were included (3482 children). Ondansetron revealed the largest effect in comparison to placebo for cessation of vomiting (odds ratio = 0.28 [95% credible interval = 0.16 to 0.46]; quality of evidence: high) and for hospitalization (odds ratio = 2.93 [95% credible interval = 1.69 to 6.18]; quality of evidence: moderate). Ondansetron was the only intervention that reduced the need for intravenous rehydration and the number of vomiting episodes. When considering side effects, dimenhydrinate was the only intervention that was worse than placebo.

Limitations: Most treatment comparisons had low- or very low-quality evidence, because of risk of biases and imprecise estimates.

Conclusions: Ondansetron is the only intervention that revealed an effect on the cessation of vomiting, on preventing hospitalizations, and in reducing the need for intravenous rehydration. Ondansetron was also considered a safe intervention.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Antiemetics / adverse effects
  • Antiemetics / therapeutic use*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Dexamethasone / therapeutic use
  • Diarrhea / chemically induced
  • Dimenhydrinate / therapeutic use
  • Domperidone / therapeutic use
  • Fluid Therapy / statistics & numerical data
  • Gastroenteritis / complications*
  • Granisetron / therapeutic use
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Metoclopramide / therapeutic use
  • Network Meta-Analysis
  • Ondansetron / therapeutic use
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Regression Analysis
  • Vomiting / complications
  • Vomiting / drug therapy*


  • Antiemetics
  • Ondansetron
  • Domperidone
  • Dexamethasone
  • Dimenhydrinate
  • Metoclopramide
  • Granisetron