Aim/HypothesisTo compare the frequency of diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) at diagnosis of type 1 diabetes in Italy during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 with the frequency of DKA during 2017-2019. MethodsForty-seven pediatric diabetes centers caring for >90% of young people with diabetes in Italy recruited 4,237 newly diagnosed children with type 1 diabetes between 2017 and 2020 in a longitudinal study. Four subperiods in 2020 were defined based on government-imposed containment measures for COVID-19, and the frequencies of DKA and severe DKA compared with the same periods in 2017-2019. ResultsOverall, the frequency of DKA increased from 35.7% (95%CI, 33.5-36.9) in 2017-2019 to 39.6% (95%CI, 36.7-42.4) in 2020 (p=0.008), while the frequency of severe DKA increased from 10.4% in 2017-2019 (95%CI, 9.4-11.5) to 14.2% in 2020 (95%CI, 12.3-16.4, p<0.001). DKA and severe DKA increased during the early pandemic period by 10.4% (p=0.004) and 8% (p=0.002), respectively, and the increase continued throughout 2020. Immigrant background increased and high household income decreased the probability of presenting with DKA (OR: 1.55; 95%CI, 1.24-1.94; p<0.001 and OR: 0.60; 95 CI, 0.41-0.88; p=0.010, respectively). Conclusions/InterpretationThere was an increase in the frequency of DKA and severe DKA in children newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, with no apparent association with the severity of COVID-19 infection severity or containment measures. There has been a silent outbreak of DKA in children during the pandemic, and preventive action is required to prevent this phenomenon in the event of further generalized lockdowns or future outbreaks.
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