Baby Gastroenteritis

Baby Gastroenteritis

Baby Gastroenteritis occurs when there is inflammation of the stomach and intestine, causing vomiting and diarrhoea. The problem is usually due to an infection by a virus, bacteria or a food borne toxin. Gastroenteritis is often a general diagnosis given to conditions, which have similar symptoms and may be an indication of food allergy or food intolerance.

Baby Gastroenteritis is usually caused by infection from the hands of a parent, carer or sibling. Occasionally contaminated formulas or feeding supplies may be the cause. The baby experiences diarrhoea and vomiting, and may become seriously ill if untreated. The stools may be watery, blood-stained or streaked with mucus and continue frequently even if the baby hasn't been fed recently. Remember the stools of breast-fed babies often resemble those of diarrhoea. If you are uncertain about the appearance of your baby's stool seek medical advice.

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
• Sudden onset of vomiting and/or diarrhoea.
• Dehydration: dry mouth and tongue, sunken eyes and fontanelle (soft spot) and decreased skin elasticity.
• Lethargy or irritability.

TREATMENT OPTIONS
Children who contract Gastroenteritis can become dehydrated quickly due to a loss of fluid. Babies and young children are most at risk. See your Doctor for a correct diagnosis and the latest advice on treatment.
• Fluid replacement is essential whilst vomiting and diarrhoea are occurring. Your Doctor or Pharmacist may recommend special oral rehydration solutions. For babies, make up the oral rehydration solution using freshly boiled and cooled water and make sure the bottle or cup has been sterilised before use.
• Babies who are being breast-fed should continue to be given breast milk.
• If your baby is on formula feeds, continue feeding your baby and ask your Doctor for advice.
• Fluids, which are NOT suitable for rehydration, include tea (regular or herbal), fruit juice, flat or fizzy soft drink, sport drinks or boiled milk.
• Infants who are eating solid foods can be encouraged to eat regularly as soon as their vomiting is under control. There is no evidence to suggest that not permitting a child to eat will shorten their episodes of diarrhoea. Simple foods that are high in carbohydrates, such as bread, rice, or pasta, are recommended.
• Babies with gastroenteritis should not attend day care for 48 hours after the last episode of vomiting or diarrhoea.

PREVENTION
Gastroenteritis is nearly always spread from one person to the next by the hands. Hand cleanliness is the most important goal for prevention of this illness.
• Any child or adult with diarrhoea or vomiting should be kept separate from others until well.
• Hands must be washed with soap and water after using the toilet, helping a child use the toilet, and changing nappies.
• Children should be taught to wash their hands after toileting and before playing with a baby.
• All people should wash hands before and after meal preparation and eating.
• Disinfect toys, bathrooms and food preparation surfaces daily.
• Use nappies with waterproof outer covers that can contain liquid stool or urine.

PHARMACIST'S ADVICE
Ask your MedAux Pharmacist for advice.
1. Ask your Pharmacist about suitable oral rehydration solutions to replace fluid and electrolytes. Dehydration can be fatal. Symptoms can worsen quickly in an infant; therefore it is important to have your child examined by a Doctor if symptoms persist.
2. Acidophilus powder and a daily 10 mg zinc supplement may help restore normal bowel flora and reduce the severity and duration of acute vomiting and diarrhoea in young children.
3. Ask your Pharmacist for an anti-bacterial soap or wash to control bacteria levels on the hands.