Type 1 diabeted: Children diagnosed face ‘shorter life expectancy’ and health issues
Life expectancy for those diagnosed with diabetes at a young age is on average 10 years shorter than those diagnosed at an older age, the findings published in The Lancet show. Their life expetancy is 16 years shorter than people without the disease at all.
Around half of individuals with Type 1 diabetes are diagnosed before the age of 14, leading the authors of the study to say it highlights a need to consider wider and earlier use of medicine such as statins and blood pressure lowering drugs for those affected.
Their findings suggest individuals diagnosed before the age of 10 have a 30-times greater risk of serious cardiovascular problems such as heart attacks and heart disease than the general population.
In comparison, risk levels are around six times higher for people diagnosed between the ages of 26 and 30.
They also found patients with younger-onset Type 1 diabetes are four times as likely to die from any cause and have more than seven times the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease than their diabetes-free counterparts.
In comparison, people first diagnosed between the ages of 26 and 30 face a lower risk of dying from any cause and cardiovascular disease compared with their peers without diabetes.
The authors said the impact of Type 1 diabetes on younger people should not be underestimated, and there is a need to consider adding recommendations about the age of onset in future guidelines.
There are around 400,000 people currently living with Type 1 diabetes in the UK, and more than 29,000 of them are children, according to the charity JDRF.
Study co-author Professor Naveed Sattar, of the University of Glasgow, said: “While the absolute risk levels are higher in individuals who develop diabetes when older, simply due to age being a strong risk factor, the excess risk compared to healthy controls is much higher in those who developed diabetes when younger.
“If this higher excess risk persists over time in such individuals, they would be expected to have highest absolute risks at any given subsequent age.
“Indeed, those who develop Type 1 diabetes when under 10 years of age experience the greatest losses in life expectancy, compared to healthy controls. This is something we did not fully appreciate before.”
The observational study followed more than 27,000 individuals in Sweden with Type 1 diabetes and more than 135,000 matched controls for an average of 10 years.
It found life expectancy was also markedly shorter for women with Type 1 diabetes in particular – women who develop the condition before 10 years of age die on average around 18 years earlier than their diabetes-free counterparts.
However men with early-onset Type 1 diabetes die around 14 years earlier, while individuals diagnosed at 26 to 30 years old lose, on average, about 10 years of life.
Heart risks were also particularly high for women, with those diagnosed before age 10 facing a 60-fold higher risk of heart disease and 90-times increased risk of heart attack than matched controls.
Men with young-onset diabetes have a 17 times greater risk of developing heart disease and 15 times higher risk of having a heart attack in early adulthood compared with those in the general population.
Prof Sattar added: “People with early-onset diabetes should more often be considered for cardioprotective drugs such as statins and blood pressure lowering medication when they reach 30 to 40 years of age.
“Currently, only around 10 per cent – 20 per cent of individuals with Type 1 diabetes are taking statins by the age of 40.”
Dr Araz Rawshani, from the University of Gothenburg, who co-led the research, said: “Age at disease onset appears to be an important determinant of survival as well as cardiovascular outcomes in early adulthood, warranting consideration of earlier treatment with cardioprotective drugs.”
Diabetes: Four common symptoms
Diabetes is a lifelong condition that causes a person’s blood sugar level to become too high.
There are two main types – type 1, when the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the insulin producing cells, and type 2, when the body does not produce enough insulin, or the body’s cells don’t react to insulin.
Type 2 is more common that type 1, with 90 per cent of all diabetics in the UK having type 2.
Going to the toilet a lot more than usual, especially at night, is a common sign of diabetes.
Urinating frequently is also a sign of other medical issues, such as prostate problems, so be sure to visit your GP to have diabetes confirmed.
Excessive thirst, otherwise known as polydipsia, is a classic sign of diabetes.
It is linked to frequent urination. As excess glucose builds up in the blood, the kidneys are forced to work extra hard to filter and absorb the excess sugar, and if they can’t keep up, the excess sugar is excreted in to urine, taking along fluids from body tissue.
This triggers more urination, which may leave diabetics dehydrated.
High levels of blood sugar can cause the lens inside the eye to swell, which can result in blurred eyesight.
Very low blood sugar levels can also cause blurred vision.
If you aren’t trying to lose weight, and you notice a loss of muscle bulk or the numbers on the scales drop, this could be a sign of diabetes.
This happens because insufficient insulin prevents the body from getting glucose from the blood to the cells to use as energy.
The body will then start burning fat and muscle for energy, causing weight loss.