The actual cause of epidemic or summer diarrhea is related to germs in food or other material swallowed. These germs are usually carried by the common house fly.
The infant who is breastfed is least likely to suffer from the disease. The breast milk passes direct from the mother to the child and is of the right temperature and composition.
The only chance such a baby has of contracting the disease is when there is lack of cleanliness on the part of the mother, or when the baby sucks a dummy and swallows material contaminated by disease germs.
The case of the bottle fed baby is very different. In the first place the cow’s milk with which he is fed, whether fresh liquid, dried, or condensed, has not the same composition as human milk, being intended for the young calf and not for the human baby.
Further, it must be remembered that germs grow very rapidly in milk and in order to make it safe for baby’s use great care is necessary.
Ways of preventing gastritis in babies
Like all other diseases the best way to treat infectious diarrhea is to prevent it. The breastfed baby should not be given a dummy and his mother should pay particular attention to her bodily cleanliness.
The milk mixture for the bottle fed baby should be made up as soon as possible after the milk is delivered, and for safety all liquid milk mixtures for the young baby should be mixed with the sugar of milk and water and brought to the boil. Milk mixtures should be cooled quickly after scalding and kept clean, cool and covered.
If dried milk is used the lid should be securely placed in position immediately after measuring the powder. Condensed milk should be emptied into a screw-top jar and the lid replaced immediately after use.
The greatest care should be exercised to prevent the breeding of flies. Rubbish heaps in the yard should be avoided and fresh manure for use in the garden should be spread out to about an inch thick and dried as quickly as possible. All rubbish tins and closet pans should be kept well covered. Flies should be kept out of the house.
The mother should wash her hands after changing the baby’s diaper, and soiled diapers should be placed at once in a bucket of water and covered. If a baby has diarrhea some disinfectant should be added to the water.
Treatment for gastritis in babies
If the baby develops a sudden attack of diarrhea and looks sick the condition must be regarded seriously. The mother should consult her own or the hospital doctor if possible.
In the meantime all food, including milk, should be stopped and as much cool, boiled water given as the child will take. Barley water sweetened with 1 medicinal tablespoon of sugar to every 10 tablespoonfuls may be given every three hours.
If it is impossible to obtain a doctor’s advice immediately and the bowel movements contain a large amount of offensive greenish brown material, a dose of castor oil should be given at the commencement of the attack.
When the baby is recovering great care must be exercised in grading him back on to food, especially milk. Many babies suffer a relapse because milk is added too quickly.
It is advisable to begin by putting only one or two teaspoons of milk into the sweetened barley water for the first two or three feeds. If the bowel movements become curdy, offensive, and more frequent, return to the barley water mixture for 24 hours.
When the doctor has finished attending the baby, the sister at the nearest welfare center will help to grade him back on to his usual diet. Mothers should never attempt to treat a case of infectious diarrhea without advice from a doctor or qualified nurse.