Background: Type 1 diabetes mellitus (DM1) is a disease of increasing incidence among children. The time elapsed between the beginning of symptoms and the diagnosis of the disease is, in most cases, very extended. Aim: To report the clinical picture at onset and laboratory features of children with DM1. Material and methods: Retrospective review of all medical records of patients admitted to the hospital with a DM1 of recent onset. Results: Sixty three males aged 95±47 months and 34 females aged 109±51 months, were studied. Males were significantly younger than females (p <0.05). The lapse between symptoms onset and the diagnosis of the disease was longer in girls than in boys (46±46 and 26±26 days respectively, p <0.02). There was an inverse correlation between plasma glucose and the lapse between symptoms onset and the diagnosis of disease. The most common clinical picture of the disease was the classical symptoms of diabetes (polyuria, polydipsia, weight loss), in 60% of cases. Thirty seven percent had developed ketoacidosis at the time of the diagnosis. Ketoacidosis was more common between 1988 and 1995, as compared with the period 1996-2003 (50% and 28.8%, respectively). The onset of symptoms occurred between April and August (Winter in the Southern Hemisphere) in 38% of cases. Conclusions: DM1 is a disease of increasing incidence among children, whose diagnosis is delayed, even though symptoms are evident. The lower incidence of ketoacidosis in our patients between 1996 and 2003 is encouragin
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