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BACKGROUND:World Health Organization rehydration management guidelines (plan C) for severe dehydration are widely practiced in resource-poor settings, but never formally evaluated in a trial. The Fluid Expansion as a Supportive Therapy trial raised concerns regarding the safety of bolus therapy for septic shock, warranting a formal evaluation of rehydration therapy for gastroenteritis. METHODS:A multi-centre open-label phase II randomised controlled trial evaluated two rehydration strategies in 122 Ugandan/Kenyan children aged 60 days to 12 years with severe dehydration secondary to gastroenteritis. We compared the safety and efficacy of standard rapid rehydration using Ringer's lactate (100 ml/kg over 3 h (6 h if < 1 year), incorporating 0.9% saline boluses for children with shock (plan C) versus slower rehydration: 100 ml/kg Ringer's lactate over 8 h (all ages) without boluses (slow: experimental). The primary outcome was the frequency of serious adverse events (SAE) within 48 h including cardiovascular, respiratory and neurological complications. Secondary outcomes included clinical, biochemical and physiological measures of response to treatment by intravenous rehydration. RESULTS:One hundred twenty-two eligible children (median (IQR) age 8 (6-12) months) were randomised to plan C (n = 61) or slow (n = 61), with two (2%) lost to follow-up at day 7). Following randomisation mean (SD) time to start intravenous rehydration started was 15 min (18) in both arms. Mean (SD) fluid received by 1 hour was greater in plan C (mean 20.2 ml/kg (12.2) and 33.1 ml/kg (17) for children < 1 year and >- 1 year respectively) versus 10.4 ml/kg (6.6) in slow arm. By 8 hours volume received were similar mean (SD) plan C: 96.3 ml/kg (15.6) and 97.8 ml/kg (10.0) for children < 1 and ≥ 1 year respectively vs 93.2 ml/kg (12.2) in slow arm. By 48-h, three (5%) plan C vs two (3%) slow had an SAE (risk ratio 0.67, 95% CI 0.12-3.85, p = 0.65). There was no difference in time to the correction of dehydration (p = 0.9) or time to discharge (p = 0.8) between groups. Atrial natriuretic peptide levels rose substantially by 8 hours in both arms, which persisted to day 7. Day 7 weights suggested only 33 (29%) could be retrospectively classified as severely dehydration (≥ 10% weight loss). CONCLUSION:Slower rehydration over 8 hours appears to be safe, easier to implement than plan C. Future large trials with mortality as the primary endpoint are warranted. TRIAL REGISTRATION:ISRCTN67518332 . Date applied 31 August 2016.

Original publication





BMC medicine

Publication Date





Department of Paediatrics, Faculty of Medicine, St Mary's Campus, Norfolk Place, Imperial College, London, W2 1PG, UK.


Humans, Gastroenteritis, Dehydration, Fluid Therapy, Retrospective Studies, Child, Child, Preschool, Infant, Kenya, Female, Male