Optimal Care for Youth with Type 1 Diabetes

Transitioning From Pediatric to Adult Care

Young girl and young boy back to backAt what age should children with type 1 diabetes switch from pediatric to adult healthcare services? Does the transition to adult care affect patients’ health and ability to manage their condition? A study published online tackled this question.

The study, “Characterizing the transition from paediatric to adult care among emerging adults with type 1 diabetes,” appeared online in November 2012 in the journal Diabetic Medicine. The researchers were interested in understanding the association between the transition from pediatric to adult healthcare and children’s self-care and glycemic control.

The study authors looked at data on 118 young people with type 1 diabetes. The children were examined at 2 time points: during their senior year of high school (time 1) and 1 year later (time 2). The researchers collected information on the participants’ self-care, their glycemic control, and their parental relationships.

The results showed that a majority of the young people in the study did not transition to adult care; 64 out of the 118 participants visited pediatric endocrinologists at both time periods. A smaller number of the patients (26 out of 118) visited adult care physicians at both assessments, and 19 of the youths transitioned from a pediatric endocrinologist to an adult care practitioner during the study. Nine of the participants did not see a physician during the course of the study.

The researchers found that the young people who stayed in pediatric care from time 1 to time 2 had better outcomes than children in the other groups—they had the best self-care, and they did not have significant declines in their glycemic control.

The study authors conclude that their results demonstrate that early transition from pediatric healthcare to adult healthcare may negatively affect self-care and glycemic control in youth. They argue that more research is needed to determine strategies to help children with type 1 diabetes as they transition into adult care.

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