April 26, 2006

Ondansetron, an antiemetic -- a type of drug that combats vomiting and nausea -- can help improve outcomes in children with gastroenteritis, according to an article published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM).

In the study, researchers enrolled 215 children 6 months through 10 years of age who were treated in a pediatric emergency department for gastroenteritis and dehydration. After being randomly assigned to treatment with orally disintegrating ondansetron tablets or placebo, the children received oral-rehydration therapy. The primary outcome was the proportion who vomited while receiving oral rehydration. The secondary outcomes were the number of episodes of vomiting and the proportions who were treated with intravenous rehydration or hospitalized.

As compared with children who received placebo, the children who received ondansetron were less likely to vomit, vomited less often, had greater oral intake and were less likely to be treated by intravenous rehydration. The rates of hospitalization and of return visits to the emergency department did not differ significantly between groups.

A single dose of oral ondansetron reduces vomiting and facilitates oral rehydration and may thus be well suited for use in the emergency department, concluded the study.