Aims: To determine whether the risk of hyponatraemia in children with gastroenteritis receiving intravenous (IV) fluids is decreased by the use of 0.9% saline.
Methods: A prospective randomised study was carried out in a tertiary paediatric hospital. A total of 102 children with gastroenteritis were randomised to receive either 0.9% saline + 2.5% dextrose (NS) or 0.45% saline + 2.5% dextrose (N/2) at a rate determined by their treating physician according to hospital guidelines and clinical judgement. Plasma electrolytes, osmolality, and plasma glucose were measured before (T0) and 4 hours after (T4) starting IV fluids, and subsequently if clinically indicated. Electrolytes and osmolality were measured in urine samples. Results were analysed according to whether children were hyponatraemic (plasma sodium <135 mmol/l) or normonatraemic at T0.
Results: At T0, mean (SD) plasma sodium was 135 (3.3) mmol/l (range 124–142), with 37/102 (36%) hyponatraemic. At T4, mean plasma sodium in children receiving N/2 remained unchanged in those initially hyponatraemic (n = 16), but fell 2.3 (2.2) mmol/l in the normonatraemic group. In contrast, among children receiving NS, mean plasma sodium was 2.4 (2.0) mmol/l higher in those hyponatraemic at baseline (n = 21) and unchanged in the initially normonatraemic children. In 16 children who were still receiving IV fluids at 24 hours, 3/8 receiving N/2 were hyponatraemic compared with 0/8 receiving NS. No child became hypernatraemic.
Conclusions: In gastroenteritis treated with intravenous fluids, normal saline is preferable to hypotonic saline because it protects against hyponatraemia without causing hypernatraemia.
- ADH, antidiuretic hormone
- IV, intravenous
- RRP, rapid replacement protocol
- SRP, slow replacement protocol
- fluid therapy
- infusions intravenous
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Published Online First 13 December 2005
Competing interests: none declared