Diarrheal dehydration is a highly prevalent condition among young children and is readily prevented and treated with oral rehydration therapy. We report a death due to hypernatremic dehydration caused by rotavirus diarrhea of a 9-month-old infant whose mother attempted to purchase oral glucose-electrolyte solution in a pharmacy but was unable to afford it. While efforts such as the National ORT Project should help to promote the proper at-home treatment of this condition, we conclude that oral rehydration therapy will not be used optimally by the parents of children living in poverty until the economic barriers to its use are removed.
KIE: Meyers, et al. report a case of the death of a nine-month-old Boston infant due to diarrheal dehydration that has important implications for public health efforts to promote the use of oral rehydration therapy (ORT) in the United States. The mother could not afford the oral hydration maintenance solution that she had been told to purchase and administer at home. The child's condition had deteriorated irreversibly by the time he was hospitalized. Meyers, et al. conclude that the goal of the National ORT Program to reduce infant morbidity and mortality by educating parents and health professionals about ORT will not be realized until economic barriers to ORT are removed.