Young people with type 1 diabetes who are set to go to university are being urged to be mindful of their health.

A new study has highlighted the impact starting university can have on students with type 1 diabetes, and how those who transition to further education could be at “high risk” of difficulties with diabetes management.

The research involved 1,865 students with type 1 diabetes aged 18-24 who were asked to complete a questionnaire. Variables between demographics and diabetes control were then analysed by researchers from the department of diabetes and endocrinology at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

The findings suggested that 63% of respondents found it harder to manage their condition at university, although 62% say they had been able to maintain their routine diabetes care with their home team.

Starting university is a busy time and many students can be distracted by the workload and the social events that are held – particularly during Freshers’ Week. It can be easy for blood sugar levels and medication to be secondary thoughts, but it is much safer and healthier for students if diabetes management is also prioritised during these times.

Additional findings from the questionnaire included 44% declaring they had higher HbA1c levels during university compared to before they started. More than half admitted they had experienced regular episodes of low blood sugar.

Female students and those who changed healthcare provider were approximately twice as likely to report having less healthy diabetes control.

“The study quantifies the high level of risk experienced by students with type 1 diabetes during the transition to university, in particular, female students and those moving to a new university healthcare provider,” wrote the authors.

The research has been published online in Diabetic Medicine.

If a student is feeling overwhelmed, they can speak to their doctor or health team about any problems they are having with or related to their diabetes. The health team can help to offer useful support.

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