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New medicine helps rehydrate patients faster

October 13, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Of all the deadly conditions out there, who would've thought dehydration was one of the most lethal? Reports show during any given flu season, basic dehydration can kill more than 300 children. Now, doctors have the hardware to drop that number for good.Alyssa McBean is smiling now, but her recent bout with pneumonia rattled her mother Danelle, who's an ER nurse.

"[It's] very different when you're on the other side of the fence. It's easy to take care of people, it's not easy to be taken care of," said Danelle Galt-McBean with Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital in Miami, FL.

Dehydration dried-out Alyssa's veins, making an IV impossible. So Dr. Peter Antevy, a pediatrician at Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital, turned to Hylenex for help.

"We have the ability to give fluids by placing the fluids right into the skin," said Dr. Antevy.

The Hylenex medication is injected into a child's back, beneath the skin, allowing the body to absorb fluids faster. It's good news for the 1.5 million dehydrated kids visiting ERs each year.

"People, when they first hear about this concept, question - could it really be that easy?" said Dr. Antevy.

Studies show it takes two minutes to start Hylenex, which fully rehydrates a patient in two-and-a-half hours. A standard IV starts working in 30 minutes, and takes five-and-a-half hours to fully rehydrate the same patient.

Experts say use could increase staff efficiency and cut down wait time in the ER. Plus, doctors wouldn't have to search for veins in a child's neck or thigh.

Full FDA approval of the Hylenex drug could come as soon as early next year.


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