Hypercalcemia in pregnancy: a case of milk-alkali syndrome

J Gen Intern Med. 2011 Aug;26(8):939-42. doi: 10.1007/s11606-011-1658-0. Epub 2011 Feb 24.

Abstract

Milk-alkali syndrome is a rare cause of hypercalcemia characterized by the triad of hypercalcemia, renal insufficiency, and metabolic alkalosis that results from the overconsumption of calcium containing products. In the setting of pregnancy where there is a physiologic increase in calcium absorption, milk-alkali syndrome can be potentially life threatening. We report a case of a 26-year-old woman in her second trimester of pregnancy who presented with 2 weeks of flank pain, nausea, vomiting, anorexia, headache, and lightheadedness. The history revealed consumption of a large quantity of milk, calcium carbonate antacid, and calcium-containing prenatal vitamins. Her symptoms and hypercalcemia resolved with intravenous fluids and a loop diuretic. With the increased use of calcium carbonate for peptic ulcer disease, gastroesophageal reflux disease, and osteoporosis, milk-alkali syndrome has experienced a resurgence and must be considered in the differential diagnosis of hypercalcemia. In this clinical vignette we review the literature on milk-alkali syndrome in pregnancy and discuss important diagnostic and therapeutic considerations when managing the pregnant patient with hypercalcemia.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Calcium Carbonate / adverse effects*
  • Calcium, Dietary / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypercalcemia / chemically induced
  • Hypercalcemia / diagnosis*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / chemically induced
  • Pregnancy Complications / diagnosis*

Substances

  • Calcium, Dietary
  • Calcium Carbonate