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An uninterrupted supply of water, electrolytes and an energy source is particularly important in infants and young children because of their high total body water, basal metabolic rate and daily turn-over of water. Inadequate intake or excessive loss may result in dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. Left untreated this can lead to an altered level of consciousness, vascular collapse, renal failure and death. Young infants with gastroenteritis are particularly vulnerable to dehydration and electrolyte imbalance.