High Potassium in Babies: Causes and Treatment


Crucial to contraction and relaxation, potassium is the most abundant electrolyte within your baby’s cells. Potassium is a positively charged ion that is accountable for the relaxation of your baby’s heart muscle. The book “Miller’s Anesthesia” mentions that the balance of potassium is carefully maintained by the kidneys, aldosterone, the pH, beta-adrenergic agonists, insulin and the concentration of bicarbonate. When your baby’s potassium levels elevate above regular, she or he has what is called hyperkalemia. This condition can lead to your child experiencing hazardous heart arrhythmias which can lead to death.


Preserving potassium homeostasis is necessary to your baby’s health. “Harrison’s Concepts of Internal Medicine” notes that the resting stage of cardiac muscle results from the flow of potassium ions from cells. This action allows the heart to unwind before the next contraction stage. In hyperkalemic states, the excess potassium changes this procedure, hence enhancing the length of the contraction stage. This causes the contraction time of the ventricles, the lower chambers of the heart, to lengthen per heartbeat. The more time the ventricles spend in contraction, the less time that they have to fill with blood and the less blood is pumped to the body.

Normal Plasma Levels

Hyperkalemia takes place when potassium levels surpass the typical ranges. According to “The Johns Hopkins Healthcare facility: The Harriet Lane Handbook,” normal levels of potassium in neonates fall in between 4.1 and 5.3 millimoles per liter (mmol/L) while levels in babies from 1 month to 1 years of age variety from 3.7 to 5.9 mmol/L.

Infant metabolic process use more potassium daily than adults. For example, “Miller’s Anesthesia” specifies that a baby needs to intake usually at least 2 to 3 milliequivalents per kg each day (mEq/kg/d) of potassium, compared with the 1 to 1.5 mEq/kg/d that adults require.

High Potassium in Babies Causes and Treatment
High Potassium in Babies Causes and Treatment


” Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics” provides a comprehensive list of causes of hyperkalemia in your baby, that include medications such as heparin and potassium-sparing diuretics, renal tubular disease, sickle cell disease, lupus nephritis, kidney transplant, main adrenal disease, acidosis, insulin deficiency and intravenous increased consumption. The most typical of these causes are kidney failure and reduced insulin levels.

Clinical Manifestations

Diarrhea, arrhythmias, sleepiness and abdominal distention are the most typical symptoms of high potassium levels in babies, according to “The Johns Hopkins Health center: The Harriet Lane Handbook.” Other symptoms and signs that would indicate a problem with your baby consist of muscle weak point and paralysis, tetany in severe hyperkalemia and apathy.


The treatment of hyperkalemia in your baby depends on the electrocardiogram (EKG) findings. If your baby’s EKG is typical, then she is placed on a potassium-free diet. A polystyrene resin called kayexalate is likewise provided to promote the removal of potassium through your child’s feces. If your child’s EKG shows electrical conduction abnormalities, then intravenous calcium, insulin and glucose are administered, according to “The Johns Hopkins Health center: The Harriet Lane Handbook.” If your child regrettably has a severe case of hyperkalemia, then she may need to go on dialysis when the other treatments fail.


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