Forgetting insulin a factor in adolescent DKA

Type 1 diabetes

By Kate Marsh

28 Oct 2015

Forgetting to take insulin could be a major contributing factor to a higher than expected rate of diabetic ketoacidosis in adolescents, preliminary findings from a subgroup of adolescents participating in the MILES Youth study suggest.

Presenting the findings at the ISAPDAPEG conference earlier this month Dr Christel Hendrieckx from the Australian Centre for Behavioural Research in Diabetes said one in five adolescents with type 1 diabetes reported being hospitalised in the past year.

Almost 50% of adolescents in the study reported forgetting to take their insulin at least once over the past 2 weeks and this was associated with a higher risk of DKA, the figures showed.

“While clinicians are attentive to deliberate insulin omission, our findings show that forgetting to inject insulin, which is more common in this age group, also has an impact”, Dr Christel Hendrieckx told the limbic.

The researchers also found a relationship between disordered eating behaviours (assessed using the Diabetes Eating Problem Survey-Revised; DEPS-R) and DKA.

“When the adolescent scores high on this questionnaire, it does not necessarily mean they have an eating disorder. It is sign that they have difficulties managing their diabetes and their weight at the same time” Dr Hendrieckx noted.

“This is where young people are struggling and they need our support”, she said.

Results from the online survey also showed that compared to adolescents who reported being hospitalised for DKA once or not at all, those with two or more DKA events were more likely to be taking insulin by injection rather than a pump.

However, Dr Hendrieckx said some studies showed the opposite and others show no difference – so whether insulin delivery mode affects rates of DKA remained unclear.

Diabetes Miles Youth is a national online survey aimed at exploring the well-being and quality of life of young people with diabetes and their parents, and investigating self-reported diabetes care and health outcomes. The average age of participants was 16 years and duration of diabetes 7 years. Just over half (52%) were using an insulin pump.

You can find out more about Diabetes Miles Youth study here.

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