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May 10, 1976

Near-Fatal Hyperkalemia Due to Ingestion of Salt Substitute by an Infant

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Pediatrics, University of Chicago-Pritzker School of Medicine, Chicago. Dr Kallen is now at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland.

JAMA. 1976;235(19):2125-2126. doi:10.1001/jama.1976.03260450037029

PREPARATIONS of salt substitute, containing high concentrations of potassium chloride, are readily available and are intended for persons on a table salt (sodium chloride)-restricted diet. We report the occurrence of near-fatal hyperkalemia in an 8-month-old infant without renal disease, who was inadvertently given a large dose of a commercially available salt substitute.

Report of a Case  An 8-month-old infant was brought to the emergency room of Wyler Children's Hospital (University of Chicago Hospitals and Clinics) by his mother on June 15, 1975. The infant had become "stiff" with "rolling back" of the eyes on two occasions about one hour prior to arrival at the hospital. He was unresponsive for two to three minutes each time. A few days earlier, a mild upper respiratory tract infection had developed, and on the day of admission, the patient had emesis on two or three occasions, diarrhea eight or nine times, and became anorectic. He