SEATTLE – Intravenous fluids can simply be stopped after children with acute viral gastroenteritis are rehydrated in the hospital; there’s no need for a slow wean, according to a review at the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, Hartford.
Researchers found that children leave the hospital hours sooner, with no ill effects. “This study suggests that slowly weaning IV fluids may not be necessary,” said lead investigator Danielle Klima, DO, a University of Connecticut.
The team at Connecticut Children’s noticed that weaning practices after gastroenteritis rehydration varied widely on the pediatric floors, and appeared to be largely provider dependent, with “much subjective decision making.” The team wanted to see if it made a difference one way or the other, Dr. Klima said at Pediatric Hospital Medicine.
During respiratory season, “our pediatric floors are surging. Saving even a couple hours to get these kids out” quicker matters, she said, noting that it’s likely the first time the issue has been studied.
The team reviewed 153 children aged 2 months to 18 years, 95 of whom had IV fluids stopped once physicians deemed they were fluid resuscitated and ready for an oral feeding trial; the other 58 were weaned, with at least two reductions by half before final discontinuation.
There were no significant differences in age, gender, race, or insurance type between the two groups. The mean age was 2.6 years, and there were slightly more boys. The ED triage level was a mean of 3.2 points in both groups on a scale of 1-5, with 1 being the most urgent. Children with serious comorbidities, chronic diarrhea, feeding tubes, severe electrolyte abnormalities, or feeding problems were among those excluded.
Overall length of stay was 36 hours in the stop group versus 40.5 hours in the weaning group (P = .004). Children left the hospital about 6 hours after IV fluids were discontinued, versus 26 hours after weaning was started (P less than .001).
Electrolyte abnormalities on admission were more common in the weaning group (65% versus 57%), but not significantly so (P = .541). Electrolyte abnormalities were also more common at the end of fluid resuscitation in the weaning arm, but again not significantly (65% 42%, P = .077).
Fluid resuscitation needed to be restarted in 15 children in the stop group (16%), versus 11 (19%) in the wean arm (P = .459). One child in the stop group (1%) versus four (7%) who were weaned were readmitted to the hospital within a week for acute viral gastroenteritis (P = .067).
“I expected we were taking a more conservative weaning approach in younger infants,” but age didn’t seem to affect whether patients were weaned or not, Dr. Klima said.
With the results in hand, “our group is taking a closer look at exactly what we are doing,” perhaps with an eye toward standardization or even a randomized trial, she said.
She noted that weaning still makes sense for a fussy toddler who refuses to take anything by mouth.
There was no external funding, and Dr. Klima had no disclosures. The conference was sponsored by the Society of Hospital Medicine, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Academic Pediatric Association.