Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) occurs when diabetes is undiagnosed or poorly managed. Acidic substances called ketones build up to dangerous levels as blood sugar level gets really high.
Early signs of DKA are:
- Excessive thirst
- Frequent urination
- Abdominal pain
The study consisted of 376 children with type 1 diabetes with no history of DKA. The study also included 758 children with type 1 diabetes and a history of DKA.
These children were of the ages 6-18 years. They were participating in a DKA clinical trial at the Pediatric Emergency Care Applied Research Network (PECARN) sites.
One severe DKA episode can hurt memory and IQ
The researchers found lower long-term memory in children who were newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes with moderate to severe DKA.
Greater severity of DKA was also associated with lower IQ in these children.
Children with a previous diagnosis of DKA showed lower performance compared with children with new-onset in measures of memory and IQ. This finding suggests that cognitive deficits may worsen over time.
Complex associations of DKA severity, socioeconomic status and glycemic control was observed among previously diagnosed patients.
The researchers found that patients with repeated DKA exposure and poorly controlled type 1 diabetes are at risk of cognitive deficits.
“The results from the study emphasize the importance of prevention of DKA in children with known type 1 diabetes and of timely diagnosis during new-onset before the development of DKA,” said Glaser, professor of pediatrics at UC Davis Health and senior author of the study.
“There is an opportunity to prevent DKA with proper management of the glucose level in the blood,” he added.