Developing Type 2 Diabetes Early Leads to Poor Health

Researchers said the findings show the need for greater attention to treatments needs for younger patients with type 2 disease.

Young people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes (T2D) are more likely to have serious health problems and die early, according to new research published in Diabetes Care.

Patients who were diagnosed between ages 15 and 30 were more likely to develop albuminuria, an early sign of kidney disease in which there is too much protein in the urine. This group was also had more severe neuropathy.

The team, including senior author Jencia Wong, FRACP, PhD, of the Diabetes Center at Royal Prince Albert Hospital of Sydney and the University of Sydney, Australia, examined records from 354 patients diagnosed with T2D during their teens and early adulthood, and compared the data with records from 1062 patients who developed the disease between age 40 and 50, which is more common. Data were also matched against Australia’s death records.

Because complications of T2D are known to worsen the longer a person has the disease, researchers also matched patients diagnosed at a young age with those diagnosed later, but who had lived with the disease for the same number of years. They wanted to know if early onset hastens the arrival of complications, and learned that it apparently does.

However, researchers found that younger T2D patients are less likely to be treated for high blood pressure and dyslipidemia. Thus, the worse outcomes may be due to both physiological and lifestyle factors.

Younger patients with T2D may have inherited factors that make them more susceptible to complications, Wong told Reuters. “It may also be that the burden of diabetes at this time of life,

coinciding with the challenges of adolescence, with caring for a young family or starting a career,” creates financial and personal stress that makes self-care more difficult, she told the news outlet.

According to the abstract, the negative effects having T2D are harsher for younger patients, with complications and early death “greatest for those diagnosed at a young age compared with (T2D) at the usual onset.”

“These results highlight the growing imperative to direct attention toward young-onset T2D and for effective interventions to be applied before middle age”

Reference

Al-Saeed AH, Constantino MI, Molyneaux L, et al. An inverse relationship between age of type 2 diabetes onset and complication risk and mortality: the impact of youth-onset type 2 diabetes [published online March 29, 2016]. Diabetes Care. 2016; doi:10.2337/dc15-2230.