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Summary

Background:  In individuals with diabetes, glycaemic control has been shown to be disrupted during the winter holiday period.

Objectives:  The aim of this study was to examine whether blood glucose levels are influenced by the Jewish New Year period in hospitalised individuals with diabetes.

Methods:  At E. Wolfson Medical Center, Holon, Israel, blood glucose values from individuals hospitalised in internal medicine units were collected and analysed during the period surrounding Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, 2010. Values obtained from 4 to 7 September 2010 were categorised as preholiday values; values from 8 to 11 September 2010 were classed as holiday values; and values from 12 to 15 September 2010 were labelled postholiday values. All values were collected at point of care (POC) using an automated, institutional glucometer located in each department, the data from which is downloaded to a central database.

Results:  A total of 3403 POC glucose values were recorded during the observation period. POC glucose values were significantly lower during the Rosh Hashanah holiday than the pre holiday or postholiday periods: 176.8 ± 81.3 mg/dl vs. 181.4 ± 78.8 mg/dl or 184.9 ± 83.02 mg/dl, p = 0.03. During the Rosh Hashanah holiday, mean patient age was significantly older than the preholiday or postholiday period: 77.4 ± 10.9 years vs. 74.9 ± 12.0 years or 75.3 ± 11.8 years, p < 0.0001; however, age predicted less than 1% of the variability in POC glucose: r = 0.02, p = 0.23. Significantly more women were hospitalised during the preholiday than during the holiday or postholiday periods. In a linear regression model, holiday period remained a significant independent predictor of POC glucose even after controlling for age and gender.

Conclusions:  Point of care glucose was significantly lower during the Rosh Hashanah period relative to preholiday and postholiday values. This may reflect a shift in the composition of the hospitalised patient population during the holidays towards older individuals with more restricted dietary intake.