Mothers living in rural Bangladesh were provided with either rice-based oral rehydration solution (rice-ORS) (Group A) or glucose-ORS (Group B) for treating non-dysenteric diarrhoea in their children aged under 5. Mothers living in a third area (Group C) were advised to use locally available treatment facilities, mainly unregistered medical practitioners. The incidence and duration of diarrhoea was recorded in all children over a two-year period. The outcome of each episode was recorded either as a success if the mother reported her child had recovered or as a failure if the child died or was admitted to hospital. Mothers in Group A used rice-ORS as the only treatment for 71% of episodes of non-dysenteric diarrhoea, mothers in Group B used glucose-ORS as the sole treatment in 60% of episodes, while mothers in Group C used drugs alone in 55% of episodes. Almost all children recovered successfully but the duration of diarrhoea differed significantly between groups: in the group treated with rice-ORS, 60% of children recovered within 3 days and less than 1% had diarrhoea which lasted for more than 14 days. By the criteria of early recovery and low rate of prolongation of diarrhoea, rice-ORS was found to be better than glucose-ORS.
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