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Saudi Med J. 2015 Feb;36(2):216-20. doi: 10.15537/smj.2015.2.10560.

Frequency and associated risk factors of recurrent diabetic ketoacidosis among Saudi adolescents with type 1 diabetes mellitus.

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Department of Endocrinology and Diabetes, Diabetes Treatment Center, Diabetes Education Unit, Prince Sultan Military Medical City, PO Box 7897, Riyadh 11159, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. E-mail.



To explore the frequency and associated risk factors of recurrent diabetic ketoacidosis (RDKA) among Saudi adolescents with type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM).


A cross-sectional study was conducted among 103 T1DM adolescents (aged 13-18 years, 57 males) who were hospitalized for diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) between January 2013 and May 2014 at Prince Sultan Military Medical City (PSMMC), Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The respondents were purposively, conveniently selected, and interviewed using a structured Arabic questionnaire including clinical information and demographics.


Fifty-six participants had experienced one episode of DKA, 41 had 2 episodes, and 6 had ≥3 episodes. Compared with adolescents who had hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) ≤9, mean difference in RDKA was found among adolescents with >9 HbA1c. Similarly, adolescents who stopped insulin and those with lipodystrophy at the injection site had a higher frequency of RDKA. Discontinuing insulin (67%) was the major reason for RDKA followed by infection (31%). Among adolescents who discontinued insulin treatment, 31 (46.3%) gave no reason for stopping, 25 (37.3%) reported feeling sick, 7 (10.4%) gave a combination of reasons, and 4 (6%) reported a lack of supplies or other reasons. Regression analysis revealed that a higher HbA1c level and the presence of lipodystrophy were independent risk factors for RDKA.


The frequency of RDKA was significantly greater in the T1DM adolescents with a higher HbA1c level, lipodystrophy, and those who had discontinued insulin treatment. Comprehensive multidisciplinary diabetes education should be offered to control modifiable risk factors in these patients.

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