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J Pediatr. 2013 Feb;162(2):330-4.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2012.06.058. Epub 2012 Aug 15.

Diabetic ketoacidosis at diabetes onset: still an all too common threat in youth.

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Department of Pediatrics, Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Aurora, CO, USA.



To define the demographic and clinical characteristics of children at the onset of type 1 diabetes (T1D), with particular attention to the frequency of diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA).


The Pediatric Diabetes Consortium enrolled children with new-onset T1D into a common database. For this report, eligible subjects were aged <19 years, had a pH or HCO(3) value recorded at diagnosis, and were positive for at least one diabetes-associated autoantibody. Of the 1054 children enrolled, 805 met the inclusion criteria. A pH of <7.3 and/or HCO(3) value of <15 mEq/L defined DKA. Data collected included height, weight, hemoglobin A1c, and demographic information (eg, race/ethnicity, health insurance status, parental education, family income).


The 805 children had a mean age of 9.2 years, 50% were female; 63% were non-Hispanic Caucasian. Overall, 34% of the children presented in DKA, half with moderate or severe DKA (pH <7.2). The risk for DKA was estimated as 54% in children aged <3 years and 33% in those aged ≥ 3 years (P = .006). In multivariate analysis, younger age (P = .002), lack of private health insurance (P < .001), African-American race (P = .01), and no family history of T1D (P = .001) were independently predictive of DKA. The mean initial hemoglobin A1c was higher in the children with DKA compared with those without DKA (12.5% ± 1.9% vs 11.1% ± 2.4%; P < .001).


The incidence of DKA in children at the onset of T1D remains high, with approximately one-third presenting with DKA and one-sixth with moderate or severe DKA. Increased awareness of T1D in the medical and lay communities is needed to decrease the incidence of this life-threatening complication.

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