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If you have questions or are concerned, call Pediatric Endocrinology at 617-726-2909.

What are ketones?

Ketones are substances the body makes when there is not enough insulin (a hormone that helps break down carbohydrates for energy) in the blood.

Are ketones dangerous?

High levels of ketones can be dangerous or even life-threatening. They can lead to a condition called ketoacidosis (when acid builds up in the blood).

When should I test my child for ketones?

You should test your child blood for ketones if:

  • His blood sugar is consistently high
  • He is sick

What is ketoacidosis?

Ketoacidosis is a life-threatening condition in which there is a high number of ketones in the blood. Call the doctor if you child shows any of these signs of ketoacidosis:

Early signs

  • Thirst or a very dry mouth
  • Frequent urination
  • High blood sugar levels
  • High ketone levels

Other signs

  • Constantly feeling tired
  • Dry or flushed (red) skin
  • Nausea, vomiting or stomach pain
  • Trouble breathing
  • A fruity smell on the breath
  • Trouble focusing or feeling confused

Learn More

Rev. 3/2018. Reviewed by the MGfC Family Advisory Council.