Why are children more susceptible to dehydration than adults?

Updated: Nov 12, 2018
  • Author: Alex Koyfman, MD; Chief Editor: Muhammad Waseem, MBBS, MS, FAAP, FACEP, FAHA  more...
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Answer

The body contains 2 major fluid compartments: the intracellular fluid (ICF) and the extracellular fluid (ECF). The ICF comprises of two thirds of the total body water (TBW), while the ECF accounts for the remaining third. The ECF is further divided into the interstitial fluid (75%) and plasma (25%). The TBW comprises approximately 70% of body weight in infants, 65% in children, and 60% in adults.

Infants' and children’s higher body water content, along with their higher metabolic rates and increased body surface area to mass index, contribute to their higher turnover of fluids and solute. Therefore, infants and children require proportionally greater volumes of water than adults to maintain their fluid equilibrium and are more susceptible to volume depletion. Significant fluid losses may occur rapidly, leading to depletion of the intravascular volume.


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