Diabetic ketoacidosis rates still high in children


Dangerously low insulin levels can lead to a condition called diabetic ketoacidosis, where high levels of ketones can start poisoning the body and present a life-threatening situation.

A new study from researchers at the University of Colorado in Denver found that diabetic ketoacidosis is still a critical problem for youth with diabetes, suggesting that rates of the condition are "unacceptably high" among children.

DKA not declining

The report, issued in the journal Pediatrics, included data on 5,615 youth with type 1 diabetes and 1,425 youth with type 2 diabetes.

Results of the study showed that DKA rates have not declined in the last eight years, remaining high when compared with other developed countries. Almost one-third of all youth with type 1 diabetes had experienced the condition, and rates were much higher among children under 5 years old, non-white children, and those without private health insurance.

For kids with type 2 diabetes, DKA was less common and less prevalent over time. This might have to do with earlier detection rates or earlier diabetes diagnoses, the researchers said.

Disease preventable, serious

DKA is a preventable condition, but left untreated, it can cause diabetic coma or even death, according to the American Diabetes Association.

Warning signs include thirst or very dry mouth, frequent urination, high blood sugar levels, flushed skin, nausea and difficulty breathing.

Treatment for DKA usually must take place in the hospital, but parents can help children learn the warning signs and check their urine and blood regularly.

"These data suggest that more needs to be done to begin reducing DKA rates in the future," said study leader Dana Dabelea, M.D., Ph.D., professor and associate dean at the University of Colorado School of Public Health. "Previous research suggests that increased community awareness of type 1 diabetes, including parental education and closer monitoring of signs and symptoms of diabetes, may be effective tools. In the U.S., improved health care access especially for underserved populations is also needed to reduce the observed health disparities."

Source: University of Colorado Denver


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