Use of serum bicarbonate to substitute for venous pH in new-onset diabetes. (Emrath)

von Oettingen J, Wolfsdorf J, Feldman HA, et al. Use of serum bicarbonate to substitute for venous pH in new-onset diabetes. Pediatrics. 2015 Aug;136(2):e371-7.

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OBJECTIVE: To investigate whether serum bicarbonate (HCO3) levels can be used to accurately diagnose diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) and classify its severity in children with new-onset diabetes mellitus (NODM).

METHODS: Retrospective study of all patients with NODM presenting to Boston Children’s Hospital from October 1, 2007, to July 1, 2013. DKA was defined as blood glucose ≥200 mg/dL, venous pH (vpH) <7.3, and urine ketones ≥2+, and severe DKA as vpH <7.1. Linear regression was used to assess serum HCO3 as a predictor of vpH, and logistic regression to evaluate serum HCO3 as a predictor of DKA and severe DKA.

RESULTS: Of 690 study cohort subjects (47% girls, age 10.8 ± 4.3 years, 76.7% white), 19.4% presented with DKA. The relationship between serum HCO3 and vpH was log-linear (r = 0.87, 95% CI 0.85-0.89, P < .001). HCO3 predicted vpH (R(2) 0.75, P < .001) using the formula vpH = 6.81301 + (0.17823*ln[HCO3]) and DKA and severe DKA (c-statistic 0.97 [95% CI 0.96-0.99, P < .001] and 0.99 [95% CI 0.991-0.999, P < .001], respectively). HCO3 cutoffs of <18 and <8 mmol/L had sensitivities of 91.8% and 95.2%, and specificities of 91.7% and 96.7%, respectively, to diagnose DKA and severe DKA. Findings were similar in a validation cohort of 197 subjects.

CONCLUSIONS: Serum HCO3 concentration alone can substitute for vpH to diagnose DKA and classify severity in children with NODM. It is suggested as an alternative to reliance on vpH, especially in settings in which access to vpH measurement is limited.

Prevalence of and risk factors for intracranial abnormalities in unprovoked seizures. (Emrath)

Dayan PS, Lillis K, Bennett J, et al. Prevalence of and risk factors for intracranial abnormalities in unprovoked seizures. Pediatrics. 2015 Aug;136(2):e351-60.

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BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Prospective data are lacking to determine which children might benefit from prompt neuroimaging after unprovoked seizures. We aimed to determine the prevalence of, and risk factors for, relevant intracranial abnormalities in children with first, unprovoked seizures.

METHODS: We conducted a 6-center prospective study in children aged >28 days to 18 years with seemingly unprovoked seizures. Emergency department (ED) clinicians documented clinical findings on a standardized form. Our main outcome was the presence of a clinically relevant intracranial abnormality on computed tomography (CT) or MRI, defined as those that might change management, either emergently, urgently, or nonurgently.

RESULTS: We enrolled 475 of 625 (76%) eligible patients. Of 354 patients for whom cranial MRI or CT scans were obtained in the ED or within 4 months of the ED visit, 40 (11.3%; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 8.0-14.6%) had clinically relevant intracranial abnormalities, with 3 (0.8%; 95% CI: 0.1-1.8%) having emergent/urgent abnormalities. On logistic regression analysis, a high-risk past medical history (adjusted odds ratio: 9.2; 95% CI: 2.4-35.7) and any focal aspect to the seizure (odds ratio: 2.5; 95% CI: 1.2-5.3) were independently associated with clinically relevant abnormalities.

CONCLUSIONS: Clinically relevant intracranial abnormalities occur in 11% of children with first, unprovoked seizures. Emergent/urgent abnormalities, however, occur in <1%, suggesting that most children do not require neuroimaging in the ED. Findings on patient history and physical examination identify patients at higher risk of relevant abnormalities.

Cognition and brain structure following early childhood surgery with anesthesia. (Betters)

Backeljauw B, et al. Cognition and brain structure following early childhood surgery with anesthesia. Pediatrics. 2015 Jul;136(1):e1-e12.

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BACKGROUND: Anesthetics induce widespread cell death, permanent neuronal deletion, and neurocognitive impairment in immature animals, raising substantial concerns about similar effects occurring in young children. Epidemiologic studies have been unable to sufficiently address this concern, in part due to reliance on group-administered achievement tests, inability to assess brain structure, and limited control for confounders.

METHODS: We compared healthy participants of a language development study at age 5 to 18 years who had undergone surgery with anesthesia before 4 years of age (n = 53) with unexposed peers (n = 53) who were matched for age, gender, handedness, and socioeconomic status. Neurocognitive assessments included the Oral and Written Language Scales and the Wechsler Intelligence Scales (WAIS) or WISC, as appropriate for age. Brain structural comparisons were conducted by using T1-weighted MRI scans.

RESULTS: Average test scores were within population norms, regardless of surgical history. However, compared with control subjects, previously exposed children scored significantly lower in listening comprehension and performance IQ. Exposure did not lead to gross elimination of gray matter in regions previously identified as vulnerable in animals. Decreased performance IQ and language comprehension, however, were associated with lower gray matter density in the occipital cortex and cerebellum.

CONCLUSIONS: The present findings suggest that general anesthesia for a surgical procedure in early childhood may be associated with long-term diminution of language abilities and cognition, as well as regional volumetric alterations in brain structure. Although causation remains unresolved, these findings nonetheless warrant additional research into the phenomenon’s mechanism and mitigating strategies.

Off-hours admission to pediatric intensive care and mortality. (Betters)

McCrory MC, Gower EW, Simpson SL, Nakagawa TA, Mou SS, Morris PE. Off-hours admission to pediatric intensive care and mortality. Pediatrics. 2014 Nov;134(5):e1345-53.

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BACKGROUND: Critically ill patients are admitted to the pediatric ICU at all times, while staffing and other factors may vary by day of the week or time of day. The purpose of this study was to evaluate whether admission during off-hours is independently associated with mortality in PICUs.

METHODS: A retrospective cohort study of admissions of patients <18 years of age to PICUs was performed using the Virtual PICU Systems (VPS, LLC) database. “Off-hours” was defined as nighttime (7:00 pm to 6:59 am) or weekend (Saturday or Sunday any time). Mixed-effects multivariable regression was performed by using Pediatric Index of Mortality 2 (PIM2) to adjust for severity of illness. Primary outcome was death in the pediatric ICU.

RESULTS: Data from 234 192 admissions to 99 PICUs from January 2009 to September 2012 were included. When compared with regular weekday admissions, off-hours admissions were less likely to be elective, had a higher risk for mortality by PIM2, and had a higher observed ICU mortality (off-hours 2.7% vs weekdays 2.2%; P < .001). Multivariable regression revealed that, after adjustment for other significant factors, off-hours admission was associated with lower odds of mortality (odds ratio, 0.91; 95% confidence interval, 0.85-0.97; P = .004). Post hoc multivariable analysis revealed that admission during the morning period 6:00 am to 10:59 am was independently associated with death (odds ratio, 1.27; 95% confidence interval, 1.16-1.39; P < .0001).

CONCLUSIONS: Off-hours admission does not independently increase odds of death in the PICU. Admission from 6:00 am to 10:59 am is associated with increased risk for death and warrants further investigation in the PICU population.