Hypernatremic dehydration in newborn infants

  • Vânia Sousa Paediatric Service of Hospital Dona Estefânia, Centro Hospitalar Lisboa Central
  • Catarina Carrusca Paediatric Service of Hospital Vila Franca de Xira
  • Manuela Santos Paediatric Service of Maternidade Dr. Alfredo da Costa, Centro Hospitalar Lisboa Central
Keywords: hypernatremia, dehydration, neonates, risk factor, breastfeeding


Hypernatremia occurred frequently erstwhile when infant formula with high sodium concentration were given to neonates. Today, the most common cause of hypernatremic dehydration in the healthy term newborn is the low volume intake of breast milk.

The diagnosis is usually performed accidentally in cases of important weight loss in the newborn. Other clinical manifestations, when present, are usually nonspecific, with prevalence of neurologic symptoms that reflect intracellular dehydration.

Some complications, especially seizures, occur most frequently during treatment. Therefore, the management and treatment of this condition should be cautious and requires a thorough understanding of the underlying hydroelectrolytic disorder to prevent the brain cells´ overhydration.

The practitioners should continue to recommend breastfeeding as the best method of nourishing healthy infants. There should be a high level of suspicion and early recognition of the underlying breastfeeding problems before the onset of serious and sometimes life-threatening dehydration.


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