Acetone in children: what it is and how it is prevented

Acetone is an annoying ailment that we often see in childhood. It is not a disease, but it is possible to counteract its onset with some small tricks.

Taking care of the nutrition of the little ones at home is essential to protect them from any typical childhood ailments , such as acetone and bad breath. This is a passing malaise, but not everyone is like that. As a mother, you always pay close attention to what your baby eats , right from breakfast. Do you want some ideas for healthy and straight snacks on how to switch foods?

Acetone in the child: what it is

Acetone is a metabolic response that is activated when our body, due to a lack of energy , burns fat as an alternative to sugars, so that we can still carry out normal daily activities.

Fortunately, both in children and adults, ketosis is a transitory status , an annoying disorder that resolves itself in a short time and above all does not cause particular damage.

Therefore, acetone should not cause concern if a child is suffering from it. It is not a disease and there is no reason to take the baby for tests. A pediatric visit and some lifestyle adjustments will suffice.

The operation performed by the liver , which is to take energy from fats instead of sugars, is used to keep the concentration of glucose in the blood constant . The process leads to the formation of 3 substances, called ketone bodies or ketones : acetoacetic acid, beta-hydroxybutyric acid and acetone (which gives the disorder its name).
Ketone bodies can be released both in the blood and in the breath (bad breath), but also in the urine , where they are detected with special test strips.

It is called ketonemiathe presence of these substances in the body. In itself it is not a big problem, but if the levels are high then all those symptoms are activated in the child that lead him to suffer from acetone.

Causes of infantile ketosis

The phenomenon typically occurs between 2 and 8-10 years of age . Like any malaise, ketosis also affects some children more than others, perhaps due to a genetic predisposition. The important thing to keep in mind as a parent is that acetone passes quickly and shouldn’t cause concern , even if the baby is still very young.

They are different the causes that lead a child to have episodes of acetone.
It often occurs when there are ongoing febrile episodes , when you are under severe stress or after fasting for a long time .
All theseconditions excessively load the organism of children who expend large amounts of energy, to fight infections or critical situations, leading them to consume more glucose than in a normal situation.
In a short time it happens that the stores of sugars contained both in the liver and in the muscles, run out . Children are more prone to bad breath than an adult because their supplies are more limited .

Finally, there are other situations, which are not found in all subjects, but which can still trigger acetone in the child: we are talking about episodes of vomiting ,intense physical activity , gastroenteritis and a diet rich in animal fats .

Symptoms of acetone in the child

Ketoacidosis has a fairly precise clinical picture:

  • Fruity breath, which in most cases is the first and only symptom to appear ;
  • Vomiting ; in some cases repeated and unstoppable. This condition can lead, albeit rarely, to dehydration due to the loss of fluids and cause a sense of general malaise ; at the same time there was in fact the appearance of headache , abdominal pain , dry and patinated tongue;
  • Lack of appetite;
  • Drowsiness;
  • Altered consciousness (rare).


Since ketone bodies are harmful to the body, the body tries to excrete them both through urine and breathing. This is how the first symptom of acetone in children is explained; easily recognizable even by the parent for its characteristic smell that recalls ripe fruit .

Why does the child vomit when ketosis sets in? With vomiting the body goes to ‘purify itself’ of gastric juices , notoriously rich in hydrochloric acid, thus trying to fight the acidosis that is produced in the blood with the increase of ketone bodies.

In severe cases you can find in your baby someobvious dark circles and notice a state of confusion or lethargy.

Now let’s see how to naturally cure acetone in babies.

Remedies and cures for ketosis

Before proceeding with the treatment of acetone in the child, it is always good to accept its presence.
In addition to carrying out a pediatric examination that will remove any doubt, it is possible to collect a few drops of urine and deposit them on test strips (available at the pharmacy). If the ketone bodies are indeed present, the streaks will color.

From the confirmation of the diagnosis it is preferable to act excluding the use of drugs, and resorting to treating the disorder with natural remedies. Here are which ones.

Treatment generally consists of a temporary change in the baby’s diet. Therefore, to help the baby’s body eliminate ketone bodies, a diet rich in sugars, water, and above all fat-free is recommended.

Quench your child’s thirst with sugary drinks such as tea, chamomile or juice . Coca cola is best avoided because it is not a natural food. The children will go to sip the liquids little by little ; at the beginning a simple teaspoon to propose after a few minutes have passed (in cases of vomiting, it helps to reduce the episodes). L ‘ hydration is essential to return in sixth. If your child tolerates it, you can try offering him ginger, grated or prepared in decoctions.

The vomiting , if it has manifested itself as one of the symptoms of ketosis, usually self-limiting, and it is therefore preferable to wait until you run out within a few hours.

Children’s acetone resolves in 2-3 days.

If the disorder does not resolve through this liquid treatment, it may be necessary to resort to hospitalization for intravenous infusions of glucoelectrolytic solutions.

How to prevent bad breath: what to eat?

It is good to remember that acetone is a typical problem of children and that it resolves spontaneously with growth . There are very frequent cases of children between the ages of 4 and 8, who wake up in the morning with ‘acetoneemic’ breath . At this stage of evolution, not everyone tolerates night fasting well; but it is easily resolved with the intake of sugar.

To prevent further crises from occurring, organize a balanced diet , which greatly reduces fatty foods . We are talking about whole milk, butter, cheeses, fried foods, fatty meats, chocolate and sausages.
Better to prefer complex carbohydrates , such as pasta, which releases glucose in the intestine through digestion, but at a much slower rate, and therefore more assimilable by the small organism of children.

We bring you a brief summary of the foods allowed and those to avoid, to be applied both when the malaise has just passed, and between one case and another. In particular, you should always follow the pattern if your child is particularly prone to ketosis.

Permitted foods

  • Skimmed milk
  • Light yogurt
  • Bread, rusks
  • Jam, honey
  • Fruit, fruit juices
  • Decaffeinated tea, chamomile
  • Pasta, rice, semolina
  • Vegetable broth
  • Grilled or boiled white meats (chicken, veal, turkey, rabbit)
  • Fish
  • legumes
  • Vegetables of any kind, boiled, steamed or raw
  • Extra virgin olive oil in small quantities


Foods to avoid

  • Whole milk
  • Whole yogurt
  • Biscuits, shortbreads, brioches
  • Butter
  • Chocolate
  • Packaged snacks
  • Cream ice cream
  • Red meats
  • Cured meats, sausages
  • Eggs
  • Cheeses
  • Fried
  • Mayonnaise, cream, creams

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