INTRODUCTION: Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) is a life-threatening, acute complication of type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM). Infection is the most common precipitating factor for DKA, being responsible for more than 50% of such complications. The frequency and severity of DKA in children with T1DM, before and during the coronavirus disease 2019 outbreak were evaluated and compared with pre-pandemic presentation and severity rates.
METHODS: In total, 199 patients younger than 18 years were included in the study. Patients were divided into two groups: the Coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) pandemic group (new onset T1DM presenting from March 2020 to March 2021; the control group included new onset T1DM from March 2016 to March 2020.
RESULTS: The rate of DKA at presentation was similar (p=0.393) during the pandemic period (58.3%) compared to the pre-pandemic years (44.8-64.3%). Although the percentage of DKA was similar, the rate of severe DKA in the COVID-19 group was higher than previous years. Although not significant, the duration of diabetes symptoms was longer in the COVID-19 period than the previous years.
DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION: This study suggests that the rate of severe DKA, but not the overall rate of DKA, has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic compared to the prior four years. This may be due to the behavior of the parents of sick children and the limited access to the healthcare system. Despite this limited access, parental concern may have been sufficiently high to seek medical attention for their children, avoiding an increased frequency of DKA as the first presentation of new-onset T1DM.