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November 11, 2002


Question from Daly City, California, USA:

Since children with diabetes watch their diets, do they practice better nutrition and better health habits in later years? Do they do better in abstaining from drugs, alcohol, and tobacco? Have any studies been done?


So far as I can find out, there are no studies that precisely answer your question; it would indeed be a very difficult study to organise and perhaps also of questionable benefit whatever the answer. You would expect of course that good family input and personal motivation would not only make for good control, but later avoidance of alcohol, tobacco, etc. On the other side of the coin though, there is evidence that a significant, although small, number of young people with diabetes are vulnerable to depression.

Having said all this, you should expect that there will be significant advances in insulin pump technology and in islet cell transplants by the time your grandchild reaches the teen years that the impact of diabetes on lifestyle will have grown much less.


[Editor’s comment: Several years ago, there was a study done by the group at Pittsburgh which showed that teens with diabetes were less likely to engage in risk-taking behaviors (such as drugs, alcohol, and tobacco) than their peers who did not have diabetes. I regret that I cannot remember the exact reference, but I think these data were presented at the IDF meeting in Washington, DC.