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Huge study points to sex difference in type 1 diabetes

World News | September 23, 2013


Kevin Grogan

Huge study points to sex difference in type 1 diabetes

Men with type 1 diabetes seem to be better at blood sugar control than women, but there is no significant difference between boys and girls.

These are the key findings of research presented by Sarah Wild of the University of Edinburgh and colleagues at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes meeting in Barcelona. The team analysed type 1 diabetes patients from 12 countries (Austria, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Latvia, New Zealand, Norway, Scotland, Slovenia, Sweden, Ukraine and the USA), covering 142,260 children and adults.
 
The researchers looked at blood sugar control over the previous 12 to 24 months and found that proportions of people with HbA1c levels greater than or equal to 7.5% (and therefore worse blood sugar control) ranged from 64.4% in boys less than 15 years of age to 74.0% in women of 15-29 years old. In the youngest age group, there was no statistically significant difference between boys and girls.

In the two older age categories, women aged 15-29 years were 8% more likely to miss the target and have HbA1c ≥7.5% than men of the same age, and women aged 30 years and over were 6% more likely to miss it.
 
Prof Wild said that further work is required to investigate the findings, but believes one explanation could be that women tend to have lower haemoglobin levels than men. She told PharmaTimes that "we hope to be able to do this in datasets with the relevant information available".

She went on to say that "we will also explore whether data on sex differences in fructosamine or continuous glucose monitoring exist as alternative measures of glycaemic control". Eventually, "we would like to investigate whether any sex differences in glycaemic control are associated with differences in incidence of complications," Prof Wild concluded.

Type 1 diabetes, which develops when the insulin-producing cells in the body have been destroyed, accounts for between 5%-10% of all cases of the disease.

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