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Hand-washing proves effective for preventing diarrhoea in children

Everywhere in the world, washing the hands is effective in reducing the frequency of diarrhoea in children.

The microorganisms responsible for infectious diarrhoea can be transmitted through the consumption of infected food or drinks but also through human contact. Washing the hands is therefore an important means of preventing the transmission of infections.

A review of 13 trials evaluating the effectiveness of hand washing in 15,000 children, most of them under the age of 7, confirms that when hand-washing was promoted with adults and children who were old enough being taught to wash their hands, the rate of diarrhoea was around 30% lower than in groups where hand-washing was not promoted. This finding was confirmed by trials carried out among children in institutions, on different continents.

In practice, these results substantiate the effectiveness of simply washing the hands with soap and water in preventing diarrhoea in children.

©Prescrire May 2009

Source: "Prévenir les diarrhées chez les enfants : se laver les mains" Rev Prescrire 2009; 29 (305): 210.

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