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Concentration of electrolytes in the sweat of malnourished children.
  1. M E Rodrigues,
  2. M C Melo,
  3. F J Reis,
  4. F J Penna
  1. Department of Paediatrics, Hospital das Clínicas, Federal University of Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, Brazil.


    The sweat test was performed by the method of Gibson and Cooke on 36 children with second and third degree malnutrition, aged from 2 months to 4 years. The results were compared with those from 32 healthy, well nourished controls in the same age range. Determinations were made of sodium and chloride concentrations, chloride/sodium ratio, and the sum of the concentrations of the two electrolytes in each sample. The malnourished children were found to have higher sodium and chloride concentrations than the well nourished ones. None of the normal or malnourished children had a sweat chloride value greater than 60 mmol/l; chloride values within a suspicious range (between 40 and 60 mmol/l) were found in two malnourished children. Two well nourished controls and six malnourished children showed suspicious sweat sodium concentrations; in one child with third degree malnutrition the sodium content was greater than 60 mmol/l. In all results in the suspicious range, or greater than 60 mmol/l, the chloride/sodium ratio was less than 1, and the sum of the two electrolytes was below 140 mmol/l. Based on these results, we conclude that malnourished children have raised sweat sodium and chloride concentrations when compared with well nourished children. The electrolyte values for most of them are not in a suspicious range or consistent with a diagnosis of cystic fibrosis. Unlike that found in cystic fibrosis, the sodium/chloride ratio in our subjects was less than 1 and the sum of both electrolytes never exceeded 140 mmol/l.

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