Objective: To provide a brief overview of the causes, diagnosis, and therapies of electrolyte abnormalities frequently seen in critically ill children.
Data source: Published articles and bibliographies identified from pertinent review articles and books published in the past 20 yrs on fluid and electrolyte therapy in children. CONSTRAINT: The review includes only human studies and articles published in the English language.
Study selection: Human studies pertaining to abnormalities of water homeostasis, sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium homeostasis in children were selected. Prospective randomized studies were selected as much as possible.
Data extraction: Pertinent data abstracted from multiple, independent clinical studies were used to develop an approach to electrolyte abnormalities in critically ill children.
Data synthesis: An approach to diagnosis and therapies of common electrolyte abnormalities in critically ill children.
Conclusions: Electrolyte abnormalities are common in critically ill children and can be easily treated once recognized. Further studies are needed to better understand the role of ionized calcium and magnesium in neonatal and pediatric critical illness.