To examine the symptoms of hypoglycemia in children with insulin-dependent diabetes, from the perspective both of the child and of the child's parents, and to compare the symptom reporting of the diabetic children with that of adult diabetic patients.
Interviews were conducted with 100 parents and 43 of their children. The frequency and intensity of symptoms of hypoglycemia were documented using a structured interview and classified into groups using Principal Components Analysis (PCA).
Diabetic children and their parents showed close agreement concerning the relative frequency and the intensity of symptoms reported. PCA of the symptom reports showed that diabetic children and their parents identified the same distinct subgroups of hypoglycemia-related symptoms: behavioral disturbance and autonomic-neuroglycopenic subgroups.
Hypoglycemic symptoms in children with diabetes clearly differ from those experienced by insulin-treated adults and, in particular, include behavioral changes as primary features of a low blood glucose. These observations have important implications for parental education on hypoglycemia.