• Acute respiratory failure in an infant and thiamine deficiency in West Africa: a case report

      Hiffler, L; Escajadillo, K; Rocaspana, M; Janet, S (Oxford University Press, 2020-06-25)
      In paediatrics, the overall clinical picture of thiamine deficiency (TD) is not easy to recognize, because it mimics or can be confused with other diseases even in cases of classic beriberi. Unsurprisingly, the likelihood of misdiagnosis of TD is even greater where beriberi has not been described. Critically ill patients have increased thiamine body consumption and dextrose-based IV fluid increases thiamine cellular demand even further. Consequently, severe acute conditions may result in TD, or trigger TD signs in patients with borderline thiamine status, with life-threatening consequences. Here, we describe the case of a young patient admitted to a West African hospital where TD is not well documented and diagnosed with severe pneumonia who responded dramatically to thiamine injection. The lack of rapid diagnostic capacity and the severe outcome of TD justify the use of a therapeutic thiamine challenge in cases with high clinical suspicion. Increased awareness about TD and low threshold for thiamine use should guide clinicians in their practice.