News at Medicine - October 2013 - MUN researchers launching information campaign on diabetes complications

MUN researchers launching information campaign on diabetes complications
October 9, 2013
New resources to improve the care of children and adolescents with type 1 diabetes and diabetic ketoacidosis are being rolled out to pediatric emergency rooms across the province.
The project is led by Dr. Leigh Anne Newhook, associate professor of pediatrics, and was funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada. Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) is a potentially life-threatening complication which happens predominantly in those with type 1 diabetes. It results from a shortage of insulin; in response the body switches to burning fatty acids and producing acidic ketone bodies that cause most of the symptoms and complications 
As a way of informing health care professionals, educators and the general public about the signs and symptoms of diabetes in children, a poster campaign has already been undertaken which involved sending posters to all family doctors’ offices, public health offices, pharmacies and schools. “Early detection of type 1 diabetes has been shown to reduce episodes of DKA,” said Dr. Newhook.
A 2013 calendar has also been produced as part of the DKA project. Two research assistants from the Janeway Pediatric Research Unit went to the Canadian Diabetes Association Camp Douwanna in July 2012. Activities with the camp participants included education and DKA prevention. The artwork produced by the children and teens was used to develop a calendar, along with diabetes education tips of the month. The calendar has been distributed to families and health care professions in the province.
“We are now about to roll out a series of knowledge translation resources to pediatric emergency rooms across the province including a poster for DKA management, a resource binder for health care providers, and project brochures for families,” said Dr. Newhook.  
As part of the project, new guidelines were produced by specialists at the Janeway. “Pediatric DKA guidelines are different than adult DKA guidelines,” explained Dr. Newhook. “Pediatric DKA is a life-threatening condition that can occur in children and teens with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. The management in pediatrics differs than that for adults, largely because children can develop a complication called cerebral edema.”
Designed and developed by diabetes nurse educator Donna Hagerty, DKA prevention toolkits have been made available to families with a child with diabetes. Included in the kit are insulin syringes to be used for giving back-up insulin doses if needed, ketone strips, and instructions for parents to follow if their child has high blood sugars.
As part of the project, members of the team visited hospitals across the province and met with health care professionals. Participants were taught about early detection of diabetes in children, management and prevention of DKA. “Also coming soon is a web-based on-line course developed for family physicians and pediatricians on the management of pediatric DKA which will be available nationally,” said Dr. Newhook.
As part of the Newfoundland and Labrador DKA Project, research studies have been presented at local and national conferences and submitted for publication. One project was a qualitative study focusing on the needs of families dealing with childhood diabetes, and the second was a review of all cases admitted to the Janeway Hospital from 2008-2011. Ongoing research will look at whether the number of admissions of DKA changes after the project is completed.
From left:  Debbie Harnum, Dr. Bob Porter, Dr. Leigh Anne Newhook, Dr. Shahzad Waheed, Dr. Karen Murphy, and Dr. Kevin Chan.