People with type 1 diabetes have a significantly higher risk of developing bacterial infections compared to those without diabetes, a new study finds.
4,748 patients with type 1 diabetes were compared to 12,954 controls without diabetes by researchers at Helsinki University Central Hospital, Finland.
The participants were selected from a nationwide register data collected between 1996 and 2009. This data included antibiotic drug prescription purchases and hospital discharge diagnoses.
The Helsinki research team aimed to explore the incidence of bacterial infections between the two groups, and what association they had with chronic hyperglycemia and diabetic nephropathy.
Increased type 1 hospitalisations
3,980 hospitalisations due to infections were reported in the diabetes patients, with 81.1 per cent bacterial. In the control group, there were 2,882 hospitalisations, 72.9 per cent of which were bacterial.
Annually, there was a four per cent increase in hospitalisations among the type 1 diabetes patients, while there was a three per cent annual decrease in the control group.
Hospitalisation rates were also increased when severity of diabetic nephropathy was greater. Diabetic nephropathy was classified through the rate of urinary albumin excretion.
Each unit of increase in HbA1c levels was associated with a 6-10 per cent increase in the number of antibiotic purchases.
The researchers concluded: “Our study shows that bacterial infections are more frequent in patients with type 1 diabetes compared with age-matched and sex-matched [non-diabetic controls], both in hospital and outpatient settings.
“Although our study cannot ascertain whether bacterial infections lead to the development and progression of diabetic nephropathy, or if the nephropathy predisposes the patient to bacterial infections, it does show that there is a strong association between the two.”
In their findings, the researchers also noted that chronic hyperglycemia could predispose to bacterial infections, and that maintaining good blood glucose control is important to reduce this risk factor.
The findings of this study were published in BMJ Open Diabetes Research and Care.

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