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Serious Complications for Undiagnosed Diabetes Cases

Authors don't advocate mass screening, but suggest current strategy may be too late for some

THURSDAY, Oct. 12 (HealthDay News) -- Nearly one-third of diabetes cases in the United States remain undiagnosed, and many of these already have diabetes-associated complications, including nephropathy, according to a report in the September/October issue of the Annals of Family Medicine.

Using data from the 1999-2002 United States National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, Richelle Koopman, M.D., and colleagues from the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, measured the prevalence of positive screening tests for nephropathy and peripheral neuropathy in adults 40 years or older with undiagnosed diabetes.

Their review identified nephropathy in 26.5 percent of those with undiagnosed diabetes compared with 7.1 percent of those without the disease, producing a nephropathy odds ratio of 2.35 for undiagnosed diabetes. Peripheral neuropathy occurred in 21.5 percent of the undiagnosed group compared with 10.1 percent of those without disease, but was not significant after adjustments for age.

"Although the results presented here do not lead us to advocate mass screening, they do sensitize us to the point that the current approach of detecting diabetes once clinical signs and symptoms are apparent may be too late to prevent complications and may be a strategy in need of review," the authors write.

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