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Rate of Peripheral Neuropathy in Youth with Type 2 Diabetes

Recent pilot study indicates that the incidence is alarmingly high….

A pilot study comparing the rates of neuropathy in young people with type 2 diabetes and type 1 diabetes shows that the incidence is much greater for those with type 2 diabetes and very nearly approaches that of adults with type 2 diabetes. This echoes results from an Australian study 7 years ago that showed that there was a high rate of neuropathy in youths with type 2 diabetes due to duration of diabetes and comorbidities such as a poor lipid profile. The results were according to the SEARCH for Diabetes in Youth study.

The prevalence of diabetic peripheral neuropathy in youths under 20 years old was 8.2% in type 1 diabetics and 25.7% in type 2 diabetics. HbA1c levels were similar in both groups (9% vs 8.8% in type 1 and 2 diabetics, respectfully), but those who were older, had longer-standing diabetes, greater waist circumference, higher blood pressure, and higher lipid levels had a greater incidence of neuropathy.

The results stress the importance of improving the lifestyles of young people to improve their blood pressure, weight, blood glucose, and lipid levels. This greatly decreases the incidence of complications from type 2 diabetes. The next step is to increase the number of patients examined from the pilot study to help improve the study’s power and applicability to a wide range of patients.

Practice Pearls:
  • Over 25% of youth under the age of 20 with type 2 diabetes developed peripheral neuropathy (compared to 8% with type 1 diabetes).
  • This difference wasn’t a result of higher HbA1c levels but rather higher blood pressure, weight, waist circumference and lipid levels.
  • It is vital to stress lifestyle changes and improvements to help not only decrease the incidence of type 2 diabetes disease but also to prevent future complications from diabetes.

Diabetes Care, December 2013