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JOURNAL ARTICLE

Hypokalaemia in children hospitalised for diarrhoea and malnutrition in Calabar, Nigeria

F A Odey, I S Etuk, M H Etukudoh, M M Meremikwu
Nigerian Postgraduate Medical Journal 2010, 17 (1): 19-22
20348977

OBJECTIVE: To describe the acid base and electrolyte pattern of morbidity and mortality in children with diarrhoea and protein energy malnutrition.

SETTING: The diarrhoea treatment and training unit of the university of Calabar teaching hospital was used for the study.

DESIGN/METHODS: It was a prospective study in which consecutive children below the age of 15 years with protein energy malnutrition and diarrhoeal diseases admitted into the DTU were screened for acid base and serum electrolyte abnormalities. The study was carried out over a two year period from January 1997 to December 1998.

RESULTS: Hypokalaemia was seen in 45 (23.4%) patients. This was second to acidosis. Metabolic acidosis was the commonest abnormality in this study and was seen in 108(56.3%) of the patients included in the study. There was hyponatraemia in 25(13%). Hypochloraemia in 8(4.2%) and hypernatraemia in 6(3.1%) of the patients respectively.

CONCLUSION: This study has shown that hypokalaemia is a common electrolyte abnormality in children with severe protein energy malnutrition and diarrhoeal diseases. There is need to encourage the use of readily available interventions such as the UNICEF and WHO oral rehydration solution in patients with diarrhoea and/or severe protein energy malnutrition to reduce morbidity and mortality from acid base and electrolyte disturbances.

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