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Eur J Pediatr. 2012 Sep;171(9):1405-7. doi: 10.1007/s00431-012-1723-7. Epub 2012 Mar 30.

Metabolic acidosis mimicking diabetic ketoacidosis after use of calorie-free mineral water.

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Department of Pediatrics, Oslo University Hospital, Ulleval, Oslo, Norway.


A previously healthy boy was admitted with fever, tachycardia, dyspnea, and was vomiting. A blood test showed a severe metabolic acidosis with pH 7.08 and an anion gap of 36 mmol/L. His urine had an odor of acetone. The serum glucose was 5.6 mmol/L, and no glucosuria was found. Diabetic ketoacidosis could therefore be eliminated. Lactate level was normal. Tests for the most common metabolic diseases were negative. Because of herpes stomatitis, the boy had lost appetite and only been drinking Diet Coke and water the last days. Diet Coke or Coca-Cola Light is sweetened with a blend containing cyclamates, aspartame, and acesulfame potassium, all free of calories. The etiology of the metabolic acidosis appeared to be a catabolic situation exaggerated by fasting with no intake of calories. The elevated anion gap was due to a severe starvation ketoacidosis, mimicking a diabetic ketoacidosis. Pediatricians should recommend carbohydrate/calorie-containing fluids for rehydration of children with acute fever, diarrhea, or illness.

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