How is dehydration prevented?

Updated: Dec 07, 2018
  • Author: Lennox H Huang, MD, FAAP; Chief Editor: Timothy E Corden, MD  more...
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Consider rotavirus vaccination in infants, as rotavirus infection may cause diarrhea and/or vomiting, which can sometimes be severe enough to lead to dehydration. [25] Indeed, rotavirus infection is the principal cause of severe diarrhea in this population. [26] Infants who should not receive rotavirus vaccine include those who have (1) severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID), (2) immune deficiency from other causes (eg, HIV/AIDS, cancer, steroid therapy), and (3) a history of intussusception. [25]

In a study of hospitalizations for pediatric dehydration, Shanley et al found evidence that a large number of these hospitalizations were preventable. The study involved 85 children (mean age 1.6 y) who were diagnosed with dehydration, with a cross-sectional survey conducted of the children’s primary care physicians (PCP), inpatient attending physicians, and parents to determine factors contributing to their hospitalization. In 12% of cases, there was unanimous agreement between the PCP, attending physician, and parent that the hospitalization could have been prevented, while in 45% of cases at least one of these believed that the hospitalization was preventable.

Based on the survey, reasons that the preventable hospitalizations occurred included the following [27] :

  • Insufficient education of parents by physicians

  • Inadequate rehydration of the child at home

  • Delays in seeking health care

  • Cost and insurance factors

  • Inappropriate hospital admissions

  • Inadequate health-care quality

  • Dissatisfaction of parents with their PCPs

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