Report

Diabetes among young Australians

6 Dec 2012
Description

This is the first report from the National Centre for Monitoring Diabetes to examine the management and impact of diabetes in youth in Australia.

Diabetes affects a considerable number of young people: in 2010, about 31,300 Australians aged 0-30 years with diabetes were registered with the National Diabetes Service Scheme. Most (79%) had Type 1 diabetes. This report explores how young Australians with diabetes are managing their condition, their use of health services and the diabetes-related health problems they experience.

The report findings are based on a range of data sources spanning the years 2001-2011.

In 2010, about 31,300 young Australians with diabetes were registered with the National Diabetes Services Scheme. Most (79%) had Type 1 diabetes. In 2007-09, 21,123 young Australians regularly obtained insulin through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, buying it 257,054 times. In the financial year 2009-10, there were 15,500 diabetes-related hospitalisations for this age group recorded in the National Hospital Morbidity Database.

Insulin pump use and blood glucose monitoring

  • More than 7,300 people aged 0-30 (22% of people with Type 1 diabetes in this age group) used insulin pumps to treat their diabetes between 2004 and 2011. Insulin pump use was most common among people under 19.
  • Only people with Type 1 diabetes using insulin pumps bought enough blood glucose test strips to meet recommended daily monitoring levels.
  • People aged 19-24 bought blood glucose test strips at lower rates than other age groups, which suggests they are not managing their diabetes as well as others.

Health care sources

  • Paediatricians and general practitioners (GPs) were the main providers (34 and 35% respectively) of insulin prescriptions for people under 19. GPs (70%) and endocrinologists (15%) were the main source of prescriptions for people aged 19-30.
  • Young people with diabetes can have difficulty making the transition from paediatric to adult diabetes centres, and can experience poor health outcomes as a result.

Complications of diabetes and mortality

  • Compared with other age groups, children aged 0-11 years had the highest rates of presentations for diabetes to hospital emergency departments in Victoria, New South Wales and Western Australia.
  • People under 25 were hospitalised more often than those aged 25-30 for acute diabetes- related complications, such as ketoacidosis.
  • The number of hospitalisations for ketoacidosis among people aged 0-24 increased over time from 2002-03 to 2009-10. These hospitalisations were associated with the presence of acute illnesses and a 'history of non-compliance with medical treatment', especially among people aged 12-24.
  • Serious but preventable long-term complications of diabetes were already evident in some people aged 19-30, including nerve damage, foot ulcers, eye and kidney disease.
  • Diabetes was the underlying cause of death of 88 people aged 0-30, and an associated cause of death for a further 76 in 2001-07. Most of these deaths occurred in people aged 25-30.
Publication Details
Published year only: 
2012
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