Background: The incidence of type 1 diabetes (T1D) is increasing rapidly worldwide, predominantly in younger individuals. We developed a checklist of all symptoms of T1D reported in the literature and compared the completeness of the recording of symptoms at initial presentation before and after the checklist was adopted.
Methods: We retrospectively reviewed the records of patients newly diagnosed with T1D from January 1, 1979 through September 30, 2006 to assess the presenting features and test the usefulness of a symptom checklist in evaluating the history on presentation. The checklist was incorporated into the records as of October 1, 1994.
Results: Of the 304 patients identified, 130 (43%) had checklists in the charts. There were 146 (48%) boys, 98 (32%) who were diagnosed under the age of 6 years, and 198 (65%) presented with diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). Records with a checklist noted diabetic symptoms that were subtle and easily ignored more often than records without the checklist. As compared with those diagnosed at an older age, patients diagnosed at < or = 6 years were more likely to be male, have DKA and a shorter symptom duration, and report more episodes of preceding viral infection and dyspnea. Patients with DKA also had a shorter symptom duration.
Conclusions: A diabetic symptom checklist was helpful in identifying clinical diabetic symptoms and signs which were otherwise easily ignored. Younger children were more likely to have a shorter symptom duration and a higher incidence of DKA.