Thiamine deficiency disorders are an under-recognized public health problem in low- and middle-income countries. Infantile beriberi, the most important symptom for children, is suspected to significantly contribute to infant mortality and lifelong neurodevelopmental morbidity. Lack of awareness, varied clinical presentation, and lack of a readily available diagnostic marker lead to frequent misdiagnoses. We report six thriving infants who presented with an acute fulminant illness with varied clinical manifestations mimicking common childhood illnesses like pneumonia and sepsis. Four of them presented with the severe cardiovascular form, called Shoshin beriberi, and severe pulmonary arterial hypertension. Empirical intravenous thiamine administered to four of the six infants resulted in dramatic recovery. Awareness of the clinical definition of infantile beriberi and treatment with empirical thiamine can be lifesaving.
Address correspondence to Madhusudan Samprathi, Rainbow Children’s Hospital, Bannerghatta Road, Bangalore, India. E-mail: email@example.com