Lactic acidosis and status asthmaticus: how common in pediatrics?

Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2002 Dec;89(6):585-8. doi: 10.1016/S1081-1206(10)62106-0.


Background: Lactic acidosis is a well described phenomenon in adult patients with severe asthma. However, this entity is rarely reported in children with status asthmaticus.

Objective: To report our experience in a 13-year-old girl who developed lactic acidosis as a complication of status asthmaticus and to investigate the prevalence of this complication of severe asthma. We sought to determine the frequency of lactic acidosis in such patients and to review etiologies of lactic acidosis.

Methods: 1) Observations on the clinical and laboratory findings in an adolescent girl with status asthmaticus who developed lactic acidosis were recorded. 2) The medical records of 100 children and adolescents with status asthmaticus admitted to an intensive care unit were reviewed for laboratory evidence of lactic acidosis. 3) We also reviewed our own previous experience of status asthmaticus with respiratory failure.

Results: Among 100 patients admitted to a pediatric intensive care unit for status asthmaticus, a single case of isolated metabolic acidosis was identified. This proved to be attributable to lactic acidosis. When records of patients with severe respiratory failure were examined, no cases of metabolic acidosis were found.

Conclusions: Although rare, lactic acidosis does occur in pediatric-aged patients during status asthmaticus. It is important that this complication be recognized and treated because acidosis may inhibit the effectiveness of bronchodilator therapy, produce electrolyte disturbances, and cause serious adverse effects on the patient's cardiovascular system.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acidosis, Lactic / epidemiology
  • Acidosis, Lactic / etiology*
  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Delaware / epidemiology
  • Emergencies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Intensive Care Units, Pediatric / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Status Asthmaticus / complications*