Objectives: To study the effect of two intravenous maintenance fluids on plasma sodium (Na), and acid‐base balance in pediatric intensive care patients during the first 24 h of hospitalization. Methods: A prospective randomized controlled study was performed, which allocated 233 patients to groups: (A) NaCl 0.9% or (B) NaCl 0.45%. Patients were aged 1 day to 18 years, had normal electrolyte concentrations, and suffered an acute insult (medical/surgical). Main outcome measured: change in plasma sodium. Parametric tests: t‐tests, Anova, X2 statistical significance level was set at α = 0.05. Results: Group A (n = 130): serum Na increased by 2.91 (± 3.9) mmol/L at 24 h (p < 0.01); 2% patients had Na higher than 150 mmol/L. Mean urinary Na: 106.6 (±56.8) mmol/L. No change in pH at 0 and 24 h. Group B (n = 103): serum Na did not display statistically significant changes. Fifteen percent of the patients had Na < 135 mmol/L at 24 h. The two fluids had different effects on respiratory and post‐operative situations. Conclusions: The use of saline 0.9% was associated with a lower incidence of electrolyte disturbances
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