The water loss associated with conditions such as gastroenteritis can impose a relatively greater stress on the young infant due to the higher percentage of body water when compared to an adult (1) (a term baby is 80% water, which reduces to a proportion of 60% at a year).
In children water as a percentage of body weight is higher than in adults (1). However children are at greater risk for dehydration than adults due to:
Infants are more vulnerable to fluid and electrolyte imbalance than adults due to the following factors:
The following patients are at increased risk of dehydration:
Fever (due to increased insensible water loss), vomiting, diarrhoea and the use of formula not diluted appropriately may result in dehydration in infants.
It is very important to note that it is both easy for an infant to become dehydrated, and easy to rehydrate that infant with oral rehydration therapy in the vast majority of cases.
Last reviewed 03/2021