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Hypovolemia in Infants

Definition

Hypovolemia is a low level of fluid in the body. Lower levels of blood make it hard to get nutrients and oxygen to the body. The heart, kidney, brain, and liver are at higher risk of harm. Treatment is needed right away.
Cardiopulmonary System
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Causes

Causes may be:
  • Dehydration due to:
    • Problems absorbing fluids in the digestive tract
    • Problems feeding
    • Illness with vomiting or diarrhea
  • Blood loss from an injury or illness

Risk Factors

Hypovolemia is more common in infants who are sick and have fever, vomiting, and diarrhea. Other things that may raise the risk are:
  • Gastroenteritis
  • Bacterial infections
  • Childhood illnesses, such as bronchiolitis
  • Not taking in enough fluids

Symptoms

Problems may be:
  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • Few wet diapers
  • Weakness
  • Abnormal drowsiness
  • Irritability
  • Sunken eyes

Diagnosis

You will be asked about your baby’s symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done.
Your doctor may check your baby’s blood flow by putting pressure on a nail bed.

Treatment

The cause of the hypervolemia will need to be treated. The goal of treatment is to replace fluids. This can be done with rehydration therapy.

Prevention

Hypovolemia may be offering extra fluids to a baby who has vomiting, diarrhea, or fever.

RESOURCES

Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics
http://www.healthychildren.org
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Caring for Kids—Canadian Pediatric Society
http://www.caringforkids.cps.ca
Sick Kids—The Hospital for Sick Children
http://www.sickkids.ca

References

Canavan A, Arant BS Jr. Diagnosis and management of dehydration in children. Am Fam Physician. 2009 Oct 1;80(7):692-696
Dehydration and hypovolemia in infants and children. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/dehydration-and-hypovolemia-in-infants-and-children. Updated May 9, 2016. Accessed December 30, 2019.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Kari Kassir, MD
  • Review Date: 09/2019
  • Update Date: 05/29/2020
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