4. Youth with Type 2 Diabetes Develop Complications
More Often than Type 1 Peers

Teens and young adults with type 2 diabetes develop kidney, nerve, and eye diseases - as well as some risk factors for heart disease - more often than their peers with type 1 diabetes in the years shortly after diagnosis. The results are the latest findings of the SEARCH for Diabetes in Youth study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), SEARCH researchers examined how quickly and often youth developed signs of kidney, nerve and eye diseases, among the most common complications of diabetes. They also measured several risk factors for heart disease. At the end of the study, participants had an average diabetes duration of eight years.

The study is the largest of its kind in the United States. Key findings are:

  • For youth with type 2 diabetes, nearly 20 percent developed a sign of kidney disease by the end of the study, compared to about 6 percent of youth with type 1 diabetes.
  • For youth with type 2, about 18 percent developed nerve disease, versus about 9 percent with type 1.
  • For youth with type 2, about 9 percent developed eye disease, compared to about 6 percent of youth with type 1.
  • Measures for two risk factors for heart disease (hypertension and arterial stiffness) were greater for youth with type 2 but close to equal for a third risk factor (cardiovascular autonomic neuropathy).

SEARCH examined 1,746 youth with type 1 diabetes (averaging about 18 years old) and 272 with type 2 diabetes (average age about 22) between 2002- 2015. All were diagnosed before age 20. "This study highlights the need for early monitoring for development of complications among young people with diabetes," said Dr. Sharon Saydah, senior scientist at CDC and an author on the paper. "If young people can delay the onset of these complications from diabetes by even a few years, that can ease their burden and lengthen their lives."

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