As part of a population based regional review of all neonatal readmissions, the incidence of dehydration with hypernatraemia in exclusively breast fed infants was estimated. All readmissions to hospital in the first month of life during 1998 from a population of 32 015 live births were reviewed. Eight of 907 readmissions met the case definition, giving an incidence of at least 2.5 per 10 000 live births. Serum sodium at readmission varied from 150 to 175 mmol/l. One infant had convulsions. The sole explanation for hypernatraemia was unsuccessful breast feeding in all cases. The eight cases are compared with the 65 cases published in the literature since 1979. Presentation, incidence, risk factors, pathophysiology, treatment, and prevention are discussed.
- breast feeding
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