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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.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





427 - 434


Acidosis, Blood Transfusion, Child, Child, Preschool, Female, Fluid Therapy, Humans, Hypovolemia, Infant, Infant, Newborn, Kenya, Malaria, Falciparum, Male, Retrospective Studies, Survival Rate