Evaluation of oral rehydration therapy in Matiguas, Nicaragua.
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Evaluation of oral rehydration therapy in Matiguas, Nicaragua.

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      Public Health Rep
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      Use of oral rehydration salts is an effective tool to decrease deaths due to diarrheal dehydration. Following concerted educational efforts to introduce oral rehydration therapy, Nicaragua reported a significant decrease in deaths of young children from diarrhea and dehydration over a 5-year period. Further decline in the mortality rate has not occurred, however, and factors that would affect usage and impact are poorly understood. A health survey was administered in 155 randomly selected homes in Matiguas, Nicaragua, in July 1990. Caretakers of children were asked about their knowledge, attitudes, and practices in treating diarrhea in children younger than age 5. They were also asked to demonstrate their knowledge of mixing World Health Organization oral rehydration salts packets. Ninety percent of the respondents said they used oral rehydration therapy. The major reason quoted for not using it was dislike of the taste. Of the three-quarters willing to mix the oral rehydration salts, 62 percent prepared the solution correctly and 38 percent incorrectly. Knowledge about diarrhea and the role of oral rehydration therapy was high in this population, and those with this knowledge were more likely to use it. Respondents who learned to mix the oral rehydration salts at the health center had more years of education and were more likely to mix the salts correctly. In this study, there is a positive association between contact with the health center and correct use of the rehydration salts. The relationship of this association with morbidity and mortality needs further research.
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