Diabetic ketoacidosis, also referred to as DKA, is a potentially dangerous side effect of diabetes, but it does not only affect adults. Diabetic ketoacidosis in children is also a common occurrence. DKA happens when the body experiences a deficiency in insulin, the hormone that the cells use for fuel. When this happens, the body will begin to drain other resources in the body to get energy. The hormone adrenaline will kick in, which is when DKA becomes dangerous because it will begin to break down fatty acids from muscles, fat and liver cells, converting them to insulin. According to Medscape Reference, an online resource that addresses drugs, diseases and procedures, diabetic ketoacidosis in children “is the most important cause of mortality and severe morbidity.”

A child who may be experiencing diabetic ketoacidosis are susceptible to experiencing symptoms in many areas of the body. For example, their digestive system may be affected. When this happens, abdominal pain, dry mouth, a decrease or total loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting and stomach pain may be present. When a diabetic child is experiencing DKA, memory loss, a difficulty speaking and an inability to think clearly or comprehend surroundings are signs that their nervous system is being affected. Diabetic ketoacidosis in children may also hinder their ability to read or write. Other symptoms include body aches, difficulty breathing, an over-active bladder, fast breathing, shortness of breath or dry skin. While all of these symptoms should be addressed immediately, there are a few more serious signs that can indicate that a child is in a lot of danger. Fruity smelling breath and fainting are some of the most dangerous sings of diabetic ketoacidosis in children. In most cases, diabetic ketoacidosis in children can be detected through urine tests that determine the number of ketones that are present in the urine.


Treatment of Diabetic Ketoacidosis in Children


Recognizing pediatric DKA early is the key to defeating it. Careful management is required when it comes to the treatment of diabetic ketoacidosis in children. The younger the child is when the experience the signs and symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis, the more dangerous it can be. When a child experiences symptoms over a long period of time (including poor circulation and/or an obvious loss of consciousness) they should be taken to the hospital immediately, as they may need to be placed in an intensive care unit.

A child’s heart rate, respiratory condition and blood pressure levels should be checked every hour. Also, fluids, insulin and electrolyte levels should be increased. Fluids, insulin and electrolytes may be administered through an IV when DKA occurs. If the treatment of diabetic ketoacidosis in children does not take place in a timely and efficient manner, the consequences can be as serious as death. DKA can lead to cerebral edema (fluid in the brain), kidney failure or even a heart attack. A child is also at risk of slipping into a coma when DKA occurs.