Background: Oral rehydration solution (ORS) for treatment of diarrhea relies on enhancement of small intestinal sodium and fluid absorption to correct dehydration. Amylase-resistant starch added to ORS significantly reduced the duration and severity of diarrhea in adults with cholera, presumably by generation of short-chain fatty acids in the colon and enhancement of colonic sodium and fluid absorption. The present study was initiated to determine whether addition of amylase-resistant starch to standard World Health Organization glucose-ORS (G-ORS) would reduce the duration of diarrhea and fecal fluid losses in children with acute diarrhea.
Methods: One hundred eighty-three children (6 months to 3 years) with acute watery diarrhea were randomized to receive either standard treatment with G-ORS or G-ORS with additional amylase-resistant starch, HAMS (HAMS-ORS, 50g/L). Stool weight and consistency were monitored serially until development of formed stool or development of treatment failure defined as either the need for unscheduled intravenous fluid therapy or diarrhea longer than 72 hours.
Results: Five of the subjects were lost to follow up. In 178 remaining children (87 HAMS-ORS and 91 G-ORS) with evaluable data, time from enrolment to last unformed stool was significantly less in children receiving HAMS-ORS (median, 6.75 hours; 95% confidence interval, 4.27-9.22) than in children treated with G-ORS (12.80 hours, 8.69-16.91) (P = 0.0292). Time to first formed stool was also significantly shorter in children receiving HAMS-ORS (median, 18.25 hours; 95% confidence interval, 13.09-23.41) compared with children receiving G-ORS (median, 21.50 hours; 95% confidence interval, 17.26-25.74) (P = 0.0440). The total amount of ORS consumed was similar in both groups. There was a trend toward lower mean stool weight in first 24 hours (P = 0.0752) as well as total diarrheal stool weight (P = 0.0926) in patients in the HAMS group compared with the G-ORS group.
Conclusion: In children with acute diarrhea, the addition of amylase-resistant starch to glucose ORS significantly shortened duration of diarrhea compared with standard treatment.