TO DETERMINE THE FREQUENCY OF HYPOKALEMIA IN CHILDREN WITH PERSISTENT DIARRHOEA
Introduction: Diarrhoea remains one of the leading causes of childhood morbidity and mortality worldwide. It results
from infection of the intestinal tract by a wide range of enteric pathogens that can disrupt intestinal function. According
to World Health Organization, persistent diarrhoea is an illness of proven or presumed infectious etiology that lasts 14
days or more. Diarrhoea is the major cause of hypokalemia that may be caused due to gastrointestinal loss of potassium.
Hypokalemia is generally defined as a serum potassium level of less than 3.5 mEq/L (3.5 mmol/L) and severe
hypokalemia is a level of less than 2.5 mEq/L. Hypokalemia is a potentially life-threatening imbalance that may be
Materials and Methods: This study was conducted in the in the Department of Pediatrics Hayatabad Medical Complex,
Peshawar from March 2014-August 2014. Through a Descriptive Cross Sectional Study Design, a total of 168 children
between 1 month to 2 years of age having persistent diarrhea included in the study in a consecutive manner from OPD
and serum potassium level was checked.
Results: The mean age group of our sample was 12.6 + 6.5 months of which 54.2% male and 45.8% were females.
Most of the children i.e. 39.9% were in the age group between 8-16 months. The mean duration of diarrhea in our
sample was 19.4 + 3.9 days with 81% presenting between >14 to 21 days and 19% presenting beyond 21 days. On
testing for serum potassium, we observed that 28.6% of children had hypokalemia.
Conclusion: Hypokalemia is a common occurrence among children with persistent diarrhea. We recommend further
research for its prevention and other studies regarding causes of persistent diarrhea as well as studies on knowledge
of mothers with oral rehydration therapy.
Key Words: Persistent Diarrhea, Serum Potassium, Hypokalemia.