Aim/hypothesis: Data comparing the hospitalization of diabetic paediatric patients with the non-diabetic population is scarce. We undertook a population-based incidence study to compare hospitalization in a cohort of Type I diabetic children and adolescents. in Germany, in the first course of treatment after diabetes onset, with hospitalization in non-diabetic control subjects matched for age, sex, and region.
Methods: A total of 373 subjects with newly diagnosed diabetes (onset between 1 and under 15 (<15) years of age in 1996 and 1997; 54% male, mean age at diagnosis 7.6 +/- 3.8 years) and 783 non-diabetic control subjects matched for age, sex, and region were followed for 1 year on average. Hospital admissions and the length of stay (days) were assessed by written questionnaires. Incidence rates of hospitalization and the expected number of hospital days per person-year were estimated for both cohorts. Using Poisson regression, we estimated ratios of hospitalization incidence rates (IRRs) and of expected numbers of hospital days (DRRs) in the diabetic cohort compared to the non-diabetic cohort, adjusting for age, sex and social status.
Results: Hospitalization incidence rates and hospital days, expressed per person-year (95%-CI). were 0.34 (0.29-0.39) and 2.36 (2.22-2.50) in the diabetic cohort and 0.07 (0.05-0.09) and 0.29 (0.26-0.33) in the non-diabetic cohort, respectively. Among diabetic subjects, both parameters were associated with higher age and female sex. IRR and DRR (95%-CI) were 4.7 (3.5-6.5) and 7.7 (6.7-8.9).
Conclusion/interpretation: In the first year after onset, children and adolescents with diabetes had a 4.7 times higher hospitalization risk and spent 7.7 times more days in hospital than non-diabetic subjects. The ratios were smaller than those in Finland and Denmark in the 1980s, most likely due to differences between health care systems and time trends.