An unexpected finding in a randomised controlled trial
- By: Peter Wilmshurst
My favourite presentation at Evidence Live (www.evidencelive.org/)—the conference on evidence based medicine—was on the FEAST trial, which was a multicentre randomised controlled trial of fluid replacement in young children with severe febrile illness (most caused by malaria) in east Africa.1
This is an important topic because many young children die every day from dehydration secondary to febrile illnesses, particularly in developing countries.
The interventions that were compared, namely intravenous infusion of fluids, were clinically applicable and simple. So the results of the trial can be applied widely. Of course, I am not saying that organising a multicentre trial in three African countries was simple, but the interventions did not require complex equipment and therefore the interventions can be done in all hospitals. All children were given intravenous saline at a low rate, but they were randomised to one of three groups: one group had only the standard rate of 0.9%