Cortisol Levels in Children With Diabetic Ketoacidosis Associated With New-Onset Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus: A Retrospective Review

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Abstract

There is little data documenting cortisol levels in children with diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), despite the fact that untreated adrenal insufficiency (AI) could worsen the outcome of DKA. In this cross-sectional study, we assessed serum cortisol levels in 28 children with DKA and new onset type 1 diabetes mellitus evaluated at our center over a 5-year period. Average duration of diabetes-related symptoms was positively associated with age (P = .002), and significantly lower hemoglobin A1c levels were observed in the youngest children. The mean cortisol level was 40.9 µg/dL, with a range of 7.8 to 119 µg/dL. Cortisol levels were found to be inversely associated with serum pH (P = .007). There was no difference in the clinical outcome of the 4 patients who had cortisol levels less than 18 µg/dL. Overall, we did not find clinical or laboratory evidence of diminished cortisol reserve; however, the possibility of AI must be kept in mind when treating children with DKA.

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