Objectives: A positive association between air pollution and both the incidence and prevalence of diabetes mellitus (DM) has been reported in some epidemiologic and animal studies, but little research has evaluated the relationship between air pollution and diabetic coma. Diabetic coma is an acute complication of DM caused by diabetic ketoacidosis or hyperosmolar hyperglycemic state, which is characterized by extreme hyperglycemia accompanied by coma. We conducted a time-series study with a generalized additive model using a distributed-lag non-linear model to assess the association between ambient air pollution (particulate matter less than 10 μm in aerodynamic diameter, nitrogen dioxide [NO2], sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, and ozone) and emergency department (ED) visits for DM with coma in Seoul, Korea from 2005 to 2009.
Methods: The ED data and medical records from the 3 years previous to each diabetic coma event were obtained from the Health Insurance Review and Assessment Service to examine the relationship with air pollutants.
Results: Overall, the adjusted relative risks (RRs) for an interquartile range (IQR) increment of NO2 was statistically significant at lag 1 (RR, 1.125; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.039 to 1.219) in a single-lag model and both lag 0-1 (RR, 1.120; 95% CI, 1.028 to 1.219) and lag 0-3 (RR, 1.092; 95% CI, 1.005 to 1.186) in a cumulative-lag model. In a subgroup analysis, significant positive RRs were found for females for per-IQR increments of NO2 at cumulative lag 0-3 (RR, 1.149; 95% CI, 1.022 to 1.291).
Conclusions: The results of our study suggest that ambient air pollution, specifically NO2, is associated with ED visits for diabetic coma.
Keywords: Air pollution; Diabetic coma; Diabetic ketoacidosis; Hyperosmolar hyperglycemic status; Nitrogen dioxide.