Pediatric Diabetic Ketoacidosis Management in the Era of Standardization

Ildiko H Koves; Catherine Pihoker


Expert Rev Endocrinol Metab. 2012;7(4):433-443. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Up to 70% of children with new-onset Type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) present with diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), with most cases initially assessed by their primary care provider. DKA is the most common cause of death in children with T1DM, mainly related to cerebral edema that occurs at a frequency of 0.15–4.6%. Early recognition of DKA can be improved by increasing the awareness of early clinical symptoms such as enuresis, polyuria and polydipsia. Clinical acumen paired with early assessment of patients with suspected T1DM and known T1DM, particularly if risk factors for DKA are present, can prevent serious complications and fatal outcomes. Urgent referral to specialist centers for suspected new-onset T1DM/DKA is required. A standardized approach is recommended to be followed to ensure successful initial management of DKA, both in the nonspecialist setting before transfer and in the more specialized hospital setting. This article outlines such a management approach.


Type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) is one of the most common chronic conditions in children. The overall worldwide incidence in children younger than 15 years of age is estimated to be approximately 65,000, with a global annual increase of 3%.[1,2] Depending on the geographical location, 10–70% of these children present with diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), a life-threatening complication of T1DM.


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