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J Diabetes Complications. 1993 Oct-Dec;7(4):216-20.

Severe hypoglycemia in children and adolescents with IDDM: frequency and associated factors.

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Department of Pediatrics, University of Graz, Austria.


Severe hypoglycemia is a very common complication in youths with insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM). Seventy four children and adolescents were surveyed for a 1-year period to evaluate the frequency and associated factors of severe hypoglycemia. Patients or their parents completed a standardized questionnaire which inquired about severe and mild episodes, treatment, and prevention of hypoglycemia. Forty-four percent of the patients experienced at least one severe hypoglycemic episode [need for assistance (grade III), loss of consciousness with or without convulsions (grade IV)] during the survey period. The event rate was 0.77 episodes (grade III and IV) per patient-year. The group with severe hypoglycemic episodes was significantly older (mean age, 16.3 years; SD, 3.6 years versus mean age 13.7 years; SD, 4.9 years; p = 0.01) and had significantly longer duration of diabetes (mean, 8.2 years; SD, 4.3 years versus mean, 6.1 years; SD, 4.0 years; p = 0.04) than the group without severe hypoglycemic episodes. There were no significant differences in mean glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c), daily doses of insulin, type of insulin regimen, gender, and age at diagnosis between patients who reported severe episodes and those who did not. Mild hypoglycemia was reported by 72 patients. Fifty percent of the patients recognized potential precipitating factors. Older age and longer duration of diabetes seem to predispose the patient to severe hypoglycemia. This may be the result of a diminution of the counterregulation system including lower neuroadrenergic reaction, or the still unphysiologic treatment of diabetes. Continued vigilance and education is important in older adolescents with longer duration of diabetes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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