According to a recent assessment of the literature, type 1 diabetic girls may experience worse outcomes than boys in terms of controlling their blood sugar levels and other crucial areas of their health.
Researchers from the Netherlands examined 90 published studies and discovered some recurrent patterns in the differences between boys and girls with type 1 diabetes. Girls typically reported lower quality of life, higher blood sugar levels, and an increased likelihood of being overweight.
The causes are unclear, according to specialists. But the research highlights the possibility that girls with type 1 diabetes may experience unique difficulties that call for attention.
Type 2 diabetes, which is typically diagnosed in adults and is frequently linked to obesity, is different from type 1 diabetes.
More than 1 million children and teens worldwide are affected by type 1, which often manifests in childhood. It is brought on by an immune system response that targets the pancreas cells that make insulin, a hormone that transports carbohydrates from food into body cells where they are used as fuel.
Without insulin, blood sugar levels rise and the body’s cells go without food. So, in order to survive, persons with type 1 diabetes must take synthetic insulin. This can be accomplished either by wearing a “pump” that continuously releases insulin through a tiny tube just under the skin, or by taking many daily injections.
It’s a heavy responsibility for kids, and experts suggested there may be a variety of causes, from biological to psychological to societal, for why females frequently perform lower than boys in some areas.
One distinction is that type 1 diabetes tends to strike girls earlier than it does males, according to Sanjoy Dutta, vice president of research at the charitable JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation). More issues may result from having diabetes for a longer time.
Next comes puberty. Both boys and girls must begin taking more insulin as a result of the hormonal changes children go through.
However, according to Dutta, girls often have a harder time controlling their blood sugar than boys do.
According to Dr. Kimber Simmons, a paediatric endocrinologist from the Barbara Davis Center for Diabetes at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, girls’ insulin requirements even change during the course of the monthly menstrual cycle.
Beyond biological factors, children with type 1 diabetes must also deal with the worries and social demands of growing up, which can make meal preparation, insulin adjustments, and other elements of illness management much more challenging.
Additionally, according to Simmons, studies suggest that girls tend to suffer greater hardships than boys do, with more problems with depression, “disordered eating,” and body image.
According to Simmons, type 1 diabetes in girls is thought to affect 30% of them negatively. According to JDRF, youth with type 1 diabetes who are depressed had higher blood sugar levels and a higher chance of developing diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA).
A dangerous buildup of acids in the blood brought on by extremely high blood sugar is referred to as DKA. It occurs when someone does not take enough insulin or when they are ill with a condition that raises blood sugar levels.
According to the literature study, girls are more likely than males to have DKA.
The new conclusions are based on a review of 90 international research that were published and included children and teenagers with type 1 diabetes.
Researchers discovered that girls typically displayed higher A1C levels than boys did across studies, which is a gauge of blood sugar control during the past three months. They also scored lower on assessments measuring quality of life and had greater rates of obesity and high cholesterol.
Both Dutta and Simmons pointed out that since the study only looked at averages, the findings do not necessarily indicate that every female with type 1 diabetes will experience bad outcomes.
However, they claimed that the findings highlight the fact that girls do run some higher risks, which is important.
According to Simmons, this encompasses problems that go beyond blood sugar regulation and affect girls’ mental and emotional health. She emphasised the need of parents and doctors seeing the big picture.
For teenagers with type 1 diabetes, the American Diabetes Association suggests routine depression screening. In terms of what families can do, Simmons emphasised that expressing support is important.
I want kids with diabetes to never feel like they are struggling alone, she said. We want kids to become independent as they become older, but they will always require support.
The findings were presented on Wednesday at a meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes in Stockholm by the study’s principal investigator Silvia de Vries of Amsterdam University Medical Centers in the Netherlands. Conventionally, research that is presented at meetings is regarded as preliminary until it is published in a peer-reviewed publication.