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PLoS One. 2012;7(6):e39164. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0039164. Epub 2012 Jun 15.

Clinical predictors and outcome of metabolic acidosis in under-five children admitted to an urban hospital in Bangladesh with diarrhea and pneumonia.

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  • 1Clinical Services, International Centre for Diarhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh, Dhaka, Bangladesh.



Clinical features of metabolic acidosis and pneumonia frequently overlap in young diarrheal children, resulting in differentiation from each other very difficult. However, there is no published data on the predictors of metabolic acidosis in diarrheal children also having pneumonia. Our objective was to evaluate clinical predictors of metabolic acidosis in under-five diarrheal children with radiological pneumonia, and their outcome.


We prospectively enrolled all under-five children (n = 164) admitted to the Special Care Ward (SCW) of the Dhaka Hospital of icddr, b between September and December 2007 with diarrhea and radiological pneumonia who also had their total serum carbon-dioxide estimated. We compared the clinical features and outcome of children with radiological pneumonia and diarrhea with (n = 98) and without metabolic acidosis (n = 66).


Children with metabolic acidosis more often had higher case-fatality (16% vs. 5%, p = 0.039) compared to those without metabolic acidosis on admission. In logistic regression analysis, after adjusting for potential confounders such as age of the patient, fever on admission, and severe wasting, the independent predictors of metabolic acidosis in under-five diarrheal children having pneumonia were clinical dehydration (OR 3.57, 95% CI 1.62-7.89, p = 0.002), and low systolic blood pressure even after full rehydration (OR 1.02, 95% CI 1.01-1.04, p = 0.005). Proportions of children with cough, respiratory rate/minute, lower chest wall indrawing, nasal flaring, head nodding, grunting respiration, and cyanosis were comparable (p>0.05) among the groups.


Under-five diarrheal children with radiological pneumonia having metabolic acidosis had frequent fatal outcome than those without acidosis. Clinical dehydration and persistent systolic hypotension even after adequate rehydration were independent clinical predictors of metabolic acidosis among the children. However, metabolic acidosis in young diarrheal children had no impact on the diagnostic clinical features of radiological pneumonia which underscores the importance of early initiation of appropriate antibiotics to combat morbidity and deaths in such population.

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