Children and young people with diabetes living in the most deprived areas might not manage their diabetes as well as those from the most affluent areas, according to new research.
The findings are based on an audit of 1,742 children and young people with diabetes treated in 16 paediatric units in Yorkshire.
The study looked at blood glucose control in the children and young people, and at factors that might explain any differences. These factors included how old children were at diagnosis, how long they had diabetes for, the type of area they lived in and the size of the clinic they were treated in.
Higher blood glucose levels in poorer areas
The study, published recently in the journal ‘Diabetic Medicine’, found that, on average, blood glucose levels in children with diabetes from the most deprived areas were 0.5 per cent higher than those from the most affluent areas. Blood glucose levels were also higher in those who were diagnosed at an older age and those who had diabetes for longer.
Reducing blood glucose levels reduces risk
Reducing blood glucose levels by one per cent reduces the risk of diabetes-related deaths by 21 per cent, heart attacks by 14 per cent and retinopathy and kidney disease by 37 per cent.
The study was carried out by Professor Patricia McKinney and researchers at the Centre for Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of Leeds who manage the Yorkshire Register of Diabetes in Children and Young People.
“The results of this study are particularly worrying as children in the UK already have the worst diabetes control in Europe," said Bridget Turner, Head of Healthcare and Policy at Diabetes UK.
"It raises questions that need to be investigated further in respect of the stark differences in health outcomes between the deprived and the affluent in this country.
All young people should receive same level of care
“Diabetes UK wants all children and young people with diabetes to receive the same level of care regardless of their economic or cultural background and regardless of where they live. Local services need to invest in local paediatric diabetes services to ensure that children and families are given the support they need to self-manage and prevent the onset of devastating complications.”