Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Abnormal sweat electrolytes in symptomatic human immunodeficiency virus infection in a child.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1987; 295 doi: (Published 05 December 1987) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1987;295:1445
  1. C H Skeoch,
  2. N A Coutts,
  3. K M Goel,
  4. E A Follett
  1. Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Yorkhill, Glasgow.


    A 3 1/2 year old girl presented with failure to thrive and a five month history of diarrhoea and recurrent cough. The results of sweat sodium tests suggested a diagnosis of cystic fibrosis; but atypical organisms were found (Haemophilus influenzae, Candida albicans, but no Staphylococcus aureus), she failed to respond to treatment, and her sweat sodium concentrations fell in response to fludrocortisone. She also had hyperglobulinaemia, neutropenia, and reduced numbers of T4 lymphocytes, which prompted the performance of a test for antibody to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). This proved positive, and she was treated with co-trimoxazole, zidovudine, and human immunoglobulin. Both parents and two siblings were also positive for HIV, though all had normal sweat sodium concentrations. Children with symptoms suggestive of cystic fibrosis but who also show atypical features, as in this case, should have their HIV state checked.