JOURNAL ARTICLE
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Role of antidiarrhoeal drugs as adjunctive therapies for acute diarrhoea in children.

Acute diarrhoea is a leading cause of child mortality in developing countries. Principal pathogens include Escherichia coli, rotaviruses, and noroviruses. 90% of diarrhoeal deaths are attributable to inadequate sanitation. Acute diarrhoea is the second leading cause of overall childhood mortality and accounts for 18% of deaths among children under five. In 2004 an estimated 1.5 million children died from diarrhoea, with 80% of deaths occurring before the age of two. Treatment goals are to prevent dehydration and nutritional damage and to reduce duration and severity of diarrhoeal episodes. The recommended therapeutic regimen is to provide oral rehydration solutions (ORS) and to continue feeding. Although ORS effectively mitigates dehydration, it has no effect on the duration, severity, or frequency of diarrhoeal episodes. Adjuvant therapy with micronutrients, probiotics, or antidiarrhoeal agents may thus be useful. The WHO recommends the use of zinc tablets in association with ORS. The ESPGHAN/ESPID treatment guidelines consider the use of racecadotril, diosmectite, or probiotics as possible adjunctive therapy to ORS. Only racecadotril and diosmectite reduce stool output, but no treatment has yet been shown to reduce hospitalisation rate or mortality. Appropriate management with validated treatments may help reduce the health and economic burden of acute diarrhoea in children worldwide.

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