Incidence of dehydration and hypernatremia in exclusively breast-fed infants

J Pediatr. 2001 Nov;139(5):673-5. doi: 10.1067/mpd.2001.118880.


Objectives: To verify in exclusively breast-fed, term infants the incidence of hypernatremic dehydration and identify possible maternal and/or infant factors that interfere with successful breast-feeding.

Study design: We prospectively included all healthy breast-fed neonates referred to our Neonatology Unit between October 1999 and March 2000. All neonates with a weight loss > or = 10% of birth weight had a breast-feeding test and a determination of serum sodium, urea, and base excess. Student t test and chi-square test were used for statistical analysis of the data.

Results: Of 686 neonates, 53 (7.7%) had a weight loss > or = 10% of the birth weight, and 19 also had hypernatremia. These 53 neonates had a significantly higher incidence of caesarean delivery and lower maternal education than neonates with a weight loss < 10%.

Conclusion: Our prospective study demonstrates that a weight loss > or = 10% during the first days of life is frequent. Daily weight evaluation, careful breast-feeding assessment, and early routine postpartum follow-up are effective methods to prevent hypernatremic dehydration and promote breast-feeding.

MeSH terms

  • Body Weight
  • Breast Feeding*
  • Dehydration / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Hypernatremia / etiology*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Prospective Studies