Oral rehydration solutions containing 50 to 90 mmol/L of sodium have recently been recommended for the treatment of diarrhea in both hospitalized and ambulatory children in the United States. Few data are available, however, from ambulatory US children. Therefore, we conducted a randomized double-blind study comparing the use of four different oral rehydration solutions with differing concentrations of sodium, glucose, and base. Ambulatory children less than 2 years of age with acute diarrhea (N = 140) were randomly chosen to receive solutions containing sodium at 90 (solution A), 50 (solution B), and 30 mmol/L (solutions C and D). All oral rehydration solutions contained 20 g/L of glucose except solution D which contained 50 g/L of glucose. Solution A contained bicarbonate as its base source whereas the other three contained citrate. All but three (98%) children were treated uneventfully according to the study protocol, and there were no differences among groups in measurements of clinical outcome. It was concluded that in ambulatory US children, oral rehydration solutions containing 90, 50, or 30 mmol/L of sodium can be used safely for the treatment of mild acute diarrhea and that citrate is as efficacious as bicarbonate in the correction of acidosis.

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