Clinical characteristics and management of cranial diabetes insipidus in infants

Ambika Karthikeyan, Noina Abid, Prem C B Sundaram, Nicholas J Shaw, Timothy Barrett, Wolfgang Högler, Jeremy M W Kirk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


AIM: Cranial diabetes insipidus (CDI) is rare in infants with no guidelines on its management. We describe the first case series, characterizing the clinical features and treatment challenges.

METHOD: Retrospective case note review of infants diagnosed with CDI between April 1992 and February 2011.

RESULTS: Nineteen infants (52% male) were identified. Eight were born preterm. Median (range) age at diagnosis was 24 days (5-300); preterm babies were younger at diagnosis (21 vs. 46 days). In 58% (11/19) of infants, hypernatraemia was discovered incidentally. In 37% of cases there was associated midline anomalies, however, only four patients (21%) had absent posterior pituitary signal on a magnetic resonance imaging brain scan. The most frequent (5/19) underlying diagnosis was septo-optic dysplasia. Eight patients had isolated CDI and 11 had multiple pituitary hormone deficiencies. Isolated CDI tended to be more common in preterm, compared to term babies (p=0.11). Des-amino arginine vasopressin (DDAVP) was administered intranasally in eight and orally in 11 infants. Plasma sodium nadir following DDAVP administration was lower following intranasal compared to an oral route of administration (median: 128 vs. 133 mmol/L, p=0.022). No cases resolved on follow-up.

CONCLUSIONS: CDI in infants is often diagnosed incidentally. Aetiology, clinical, and imaging features are very variable, with some differences between preterm and term infants. Oral DDAVP appears to be superior to intranasal with less pronounced serum sodium fluctuations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1041-6
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of pediatric endocrinology & metabolism
Issue number11-12
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • Diabetes Insipidus
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Skull
  • Journal Article


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