Acute Infectious Gastroenteritis in Infancy and Childhood

Dtsch Arztebl Int. 2020 Sep 11;117(37):615-624. doi: 10.3238/arztebl.2020.0615.


Background: Despite the introduction of vaccination against rotavirus, and even though it can often be treated on an outpatient basis, acute infectious gastroenteritis is nevertheless the second most common non-traumatic cause of emergency hospitaliza - tion in children aged 1 to 5 years, accounting for approximately 9% of cases (39 410 cases in 2017). The most common path - ogens are viruses (47% rotavirus, 29% norovirus, and 14% adenovirus).

Methods: This review is based on publications retrieved by a selective search in PubMed employing the terms "acute gastro - enteritis children" AND "dehydration" OR "rehydration" OR "prevention," and by manual searching (based, for example, on reference lists and expert knowledge), with subsequent evaluation including consideration of the relevant guidelines.

Results: The degree of dehydration can be judged from weight loss and other clinical findings. In 17 randomized controlled trials conducted on a total of 1811 children with mild or moderate dehydration, oral rehydration with oral rehydration solution was just as effective as intravenous rehydration with respect to weight gain, duration of diarrhea, and fluid administration, and was associated with shorter hospital stays (weighted mean difference, -1.2 days; 95% confidence interval [-2.38; -0.02]). Oral rehydration therapy failed in 4% of patients [1; 7]. In children who are vomiting or who refuse oral rehydration solution, continuous nasogastric application is just as effective as intravenous rehydration and is the treatment of first choice.

Conclusion: In Germany, children with mild or moderate dehydration are often hospitalized for intravenous rehydration therapy, despite the good evidence supporting ambulatory oral rehydration. Obstacles to intersectoral care, the nursing shortage, and inadequate reimbursement must all be overcome in order to reduce unnecessary hospitalizations and thereby lessen the risk of nosocomial infection.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Dehydration
  • Fluid Therapy
  • Gastroenteritis* / epidemiology
  • Gastroenteritis* / therapy
  • Germany
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infusions, Intravenous