Child dehydration diagnostic tool validated

September / October 2016 | Volume 15, Number 5

Nurse stands next to a bed, where a mother comforts a baby, in a crowded hospital ward
Photo courtesy of Dr. Adam Levine

Nurse Ilishabeth Samadder sees many young
children at the International Centre for
Diarrhoeal Disease Research in Bangladesh.

​A method of diagnosing the severity of dehydration in children has been validated by a team of scientists at Brown University.

As many as 700,000 children die worldwide each year of dehydration, making the quick and accurate diagnostic tool particularly useful in low-resource settings.

Developed in Bangladesh and known as the DHAKA score, diagnosis is based on four symptoms:

  • General appearance: is the child restless, irritable, lethargic or unconscious?
  • Breathing: is it normal or deep?
  • Skin pinch: after a pinch, does skin snap back, respond slowly or very slowly?
  • Tears: does the child produce normal volume, less than normal or none?

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