Randomised controlled trials (RCTs), quasi-experimental studies, pre/post studies and observational studies of children aged under five years treated with oral rehydration solution, recommended home fluids or oral rehydration therapy in developing countries were eligible for inclusion. Studies in developed countries were excluded unless conducted in a low-resource setting (definitions reported in the review). Studies of oral rehydration solution that contained zinc or amino acids were excluded. Recommended home fluids included all home fluid alternatives (such as sugar-salt solutions, tea, rice water and plain water). Relevant outcomes included all-cause diarrhoea mortality, diarrhoea hospitalisations, diarrhoea referrals to hospital or health centres and treatment failure. Studies that defined treatment failure in terms of stool volume or duration of diarrhoea were excluded.
The included studies considered oral rehydration solution, recommended home fluids or oral rehydration therapy in children under five years of age in India, Burma, southern Asia, eastern Mediterranean, Latin America, Africa and an Apache reservation in USA. The reported outcomes were mortality, treatment failure and hospitalisations. Studies were published between 1972 and 2007.
The authors did not state how many reviewers undertook study selection.