Severe P. falciparum malaria in Kenyan children: evidence for hypovolaemia

Maitland K, Levin M, English M, Mithwani S, Peshu N, Marsh K, Newton CR
QJM. 2003;96

Permenent descriptor

BACKGROUND: The role of volume resuscitation in severe Plasmodium falciparum malaria is controversial. AIM: To examine the role of hypovolaemia in severe childhood malaria. STUDY DESIGN: Retrospective review. METHODS: We studied 515 children admitted with severe malaria to a high-dependency unit (HDU) in Kilifi, Kenya. On admission to the HDU, children underwent a further assessment of vital signs and a standard clinical examination. RESULTS: Factors associated with a fatal outcome included deep breathing or acidosis (base excess below -8), hypotension (systolic blood pressure <80 mmHg), raised plasma creatinine (>80 micro mol/l), low oxygen saturation (<90%), dehydration and hypoglycaemia (<2.5 mmol/l). Shock was present in 212/372 (57%) children, of whom 37 (17.5%) died, and was absent in 160, of who only 7 (4.4%) died (chi(2) = 14.9; p = 0.001). DISCUSSION: Impaired tissue perfusion may play a role in the mortality of severe malaria. Moreover, volume resuscitation, an important life-saving intervention in children with hypovolaemia, should be considered in severe malaria with evidence of impaired tissue perfusion.