Keywords: T1DM, DKA, pediatrics (PubMed Search)
Incidence of T1DM is 1.93/1000 of youth <20 years old in the United States, with a bimodal distribution of onset. Onset peaks from ages 4-6 and again at puberty.
Prior to the development of DKA, diabetes often has an insidious onset with symptoms of polydipsia, polyphagia and polyuria with weight loss in children. It can also be asymptomatic.
When DKA is present, symptoms will include neurological manifestations (confusion, lethargy), GI symptoms (abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting), or respiratory abnormalities (Kussmaul respirations.) Polyuria and polydipsia are frequently present as well.
Diagnosis of DKA includes: serum glucose of >200 mg/dL, serum or urine ketones, and a pH <7.30 or bicarbonate <15 mEq/L.
DKA is classified as mild, moderate or severe:
Mild: pH 7.21-7.30, HCO3 11-15 mEq/L
Moderate: pH 7.11-7.20, HCO3 6-10 mEq/L
Severe: pH < 7.10, HCO3 <5 mEq/L
Initial treatment is 10 ml/kg of isotonic fluid bolus to a max of 500 ml, then reassess. Continue to replace fluids gradually to cover maintenance fluids as well as to treat dehydration. Do NOT bolus insulin. Rather, start a drip at 0.05-0.1 units/kg/hr. Continue insulin until acidosis has completely resolved. Once the serum glucose falls below 250 mg/dL, start dextrose to prevent hypoglycemia until the gap closes.
Cerebral edema can develop 4-12 hours after treatment has been initiated. Observe for change in mental status, posturing, decreased response to pain, cranial nerve palsy, bradycardia, or abnormal respiratory pattern. This is a clinical diagnosis! Although a head CT can be obtained, it is often negative and treatment with mannitol or hypertonic saline should be started as soon as there are clinical changes.
DKA has resolved when pH > 7.3 and HCO3 is >15.
Naga, O. (2020). Pediatric Board Sudy Guide: A Last Minute Review, 2nd Edition. Springer Nature Switzerland AG.
Dean, T. and Bell L. (2019). Nelson Pediatrics Board Review Certification and Recertification. Elsevier.