News

Youth-onset type 2 diabetes triggers lasting health problems, study claims

Teenagers with type 2 diabetes are more likely to suffer with further health complications, new research suggests.

Academics from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus explored the key problems of youth-onset type 2 diabetes by examining more than 550 young Americans between 2004 and 2020.

During a 16-year study, a stable drop in blood sugar management was measured and 67% of those taking part had rising blood pressure.

Additionally, 52% of the group had dyslipidemia, 55% had kidney disease, 51% had eye complications and 32% suffered with nerve disease.

Over time, some people were diagnosed with more than one health problem, particularly ethnic minority participants.

According to the results, 80% of the group had at least one health issue.

Lead scientist, Dr Phil Zeitler said: “It is really critical for governments, policymakers, and healthcare systems to be prepared for what this means in terms of healthcare usage, loss of productivity years, loss of life, impact on families and unemployment, as well as direct costs.

“A lot of money will be spent on these kids through dialysis, medications, cardiac bypass and more.”

He added: “This is not grandma’s type 2 diabetes.

“Youth-onset of type 2 diabetes is associated with an accumulation of diabetes-related complications such as eye disease, kidney disease, nerve disease and other co-morbidities like strokes, heart disease, amputations.

“This is occurring at least as rapidly as in adults. Potentially more rapidly.”

It is common for young people diagnosed with the condition to experience strokes, kidney failure, heart attacks and foot amputations in their twenties.

However, treating youth-onset type 2 diabetes early reduces the risk of developing severe health issues.

At the start of the study, type 2 diabetes in teenagers was less common therefore the team of researchers studied how young people with the condition lose their glycaemic control.

“Since kids are going to live with it longer, we want good glycaemic control as early as possible.” said Dr Zeitler.

During the study, the academics discovered that treatment options that include only metformin was only linked to good glycaemic control in 50% of young people with type 2 diabetes.

However, treatment options that include metformin and additional drugs were more beneficial to teens with the condition.

The full research analysis has been published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

To Top