BENGALURU: Since April 1, Vijayanagar Institute of Medical Sciences (VIMS), Ballari, has received 6-8 infants for dehydration per day and has already treated 80 newborns. Currently there are eight infants under treatment with fortunately no deaths.
Dr L N Reddy, HoD, Paediatrics, VIMS, said, “We keep them until they pass urine at more than 1 ml per kg per hour. If there is no fever then length of their stay is three to five days. Since the temperatures have been soaring between 43 and 45 degrees C, they have been dehydrated.
The mothers are dehydrated and hence there is less breast milk in them. They have lesser quantity of water in their milk.”
“What we advise is keep the babies wrapped in a wet cloth (not till it develops a rash) and wrap them in thin clothing. Frequent breastfeeding, keeping them under a fan or putting a wet cloth on the window screen helps. They shouldn’t be kept near coolers. Mothers should take plenty of fluids like buttermilk and tender coconut,” he said.
Indira Gandhi Institute of Child Health, Bengaluru, director Dr Asha Benkappa sought to clear the air on whether water supplementation should be given or not.
“Absolutely no water supplementation can be given to infants who have to be exclusively breastfed for six months. Water will destroy the child’s gut. It will destroy its ability to suck on the breast. Plus, this summer, we don’t know what organisms are present in the water,” Dr Benkappa said.
“The normal temperature of a newborn is 36.5 to 37.5 degrees C. Over clothing the child with mittens and caps can increase its body temperature. The child should be clothed with thin fabrics. It should also get 8-10 feeds a day. 87 per cent of breast milk is composed of water.
The infants who have been admitted to VIMS may not have been breastfed as frequently as they should be,” she said. The mother should also drink lots of fluids, at least a bare minimum of two litres, the doctor said.