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Hypovolemia in Infants


Hypovolemia is a low level of fluid in the body. Lower levels of blood make it hard to get nutrients and oxygen to the body. The heart, kidney, brain, and liver are at higher risk of harm. Treatment is needed right away.

Cardiopulmonary System

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Causes may be:

  • Dehydration due to:
    • Problems absorbing fluids in the digestive tract
    • Problems feeding
    • Illness with vomiting or diarrhea
  • Blood loss from an injury or illness

Risk Factors

Hypovolemia is more common in infants who are sick and have fever, vomiting, and diarrhea. Other things that may raise the risk are:

  • Gastroenteritis
  • Bacterial infections
  • Childhood illnesses, such as bronchiolitis
  • Not taking in enough fluids


Problems may be:

  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • Few wet diapers
  • Weakness
  • Abnormal drowsiness
  • Irritability
  • Sunken eyes


You will be asked about your baby’s symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done.

Your doctor may check your baby’s blood flow by putting pressure on a nail bed.


The cause of the hypervolemia will need to be treated. The goal of treatment is to replace fluids. This can be done with rehydration therapy.


Hypovolemia may be offering extra fluids to a baby who has vomiting, diarrhea, or fever.


Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute


Caring for Kids—Canadian Pediatric Society

Sick Kids—The Hospital for Sick Children


Canavan A, Arant BS Jr. Diagnosis and management of dehydration in children. Am Fam Physician. 2009 Oct 1;80(7):692-696

Dehydration and hypovolemia in infants and children. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated May 9, 2016. Accessed December 30, 2019.

Last reviewed September 2019 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Kari Kassir, MD  Last Updated: 5/29/2020