Increased incidence of severe breastfeeding malnutrition and hypernatremia in a metropolitan area

W. O. Cooper, H. D. Atherton, M. Kahana, U. R. Kotagal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

129 Scopus citations


Objective: To identify common characteristics among infants with breastfeeding malnutrition in a region with an increasing incidence of breastfeeding malnutrition. Design.Retrospective case series. Setting. A 361- bed regional tertiary care children's hospital in a 1.7 million population metropolitan area. Patients. Case series: five infants with severe breastfeeding malnutrition and hypernatremia admitted to a tertiary care children's hospital over a 5-month period. Retrospective case review: 166 infants admitted between 1990 and 1994 with the diagnosis of dehydration, hypernatremia, or malnutrition. Main Outcome Measures. Maternal characteristics, age at presentation, percent loss from birth weight, serum sodium, average age at birth hospital discharge, neurologic, or cardiovascular complications. Results. Five infants were admitted to a children's hospital over a 5-month period with severe breastfeeding malnutrition and hypernatremia. The average weight loss at time of readmission was 23% (± 8%) from birth weight. The average presenting sodium was 186 ± 19 mmol/L. Three suffered significant complications. From 1990 through 1994, there was a statistically significant (P < .05) annual increase in the number of infants admitted with breastfeeding malnutrition and hypernatremia. Conclusions. While breastfeeding malnutrition and hypernatremia is not a new problem, this cluster of infants represents an increase in frequency and severity of the problem and could be a consequence of several factors, including inadequate parent education about breastfeeding problems and inadequate strategies for infant follow-up.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)957-960
Number of pages4
Issue number5 I
StatePublished - 1995
Externally publishedYes


  • breastfeeding
  • breastfeeding malnutrition
  • hypernatremia
  • infant follow-up

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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