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February 1979

The Declining Incidence of Infantile Hypernatremic Dehydration in Great Britain

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Child Health, Welsh National School of Medicine, University Hospital of Wales, Heath Park, Cardiff (Dr Davies); the Department of Child Health, East Glamorgan General Hospital, Church Village, Mid Glamorgan, Wales (Dr Ansari); and the Department of Infectious Diseases, Monsall Hospital, Manchester, England (Dr Mandal).

Am J Dis Child. 1979;133(2):148-150. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1979.02130020038007

• The feeding habits of 70 infants under 6 months old hospitalized with acute gastroenteritis were studied to determine whether current efforts to discourage high-solute feeding were having an effect on the incidence of hypernatremic dehydration. Fifteen infants (21%) were fed modified (low-solute) milks and 55 (79%) unmodified (high-solute) milks. Of 47 infants under 3 months old, 15 (32%) had commenced mixed feeding. Plasma sodium level was estimated in 60 infants. Mean values in the modified and unmodified groups were the same, at 137 mEq/liter. Only one infant was hypernatremic (sodium level, 152 mEq/liter). Osmolalities of 65 samples of milk were measured to provide a measure of milk concentration. Only ten (16%) exceeded by more than 25% that recommended by the manufacturers. Twenty-two (34%) were less than 75% of the recommended concentrations.

These improved feeding practices have probably contributed largely to the very low incidence of hypernatremia by preventing dangerously high solute intakes at a time of particular vulnerability.

(Am J Dis Child 133:148-150, 1979)

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