Kids Need Parents' Help in Managing Type 1 Diabetes

Adherence to treatment declines if adults fail to monitor, study finds

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WEDNESDAY, April 7, 2010 (HealthDay News) -- Children and teens with type 1 diabetes are less likely to adhere to their treatment plan if their parents become lax about monitoring their treatment or if there is a poor mother-child relationship, new research has found.

Failure to properly manage type 1 diabetes, also called juvenile diabetes, increases the risk of blindness, kidney failure and heart disease, the researchers noted.

The two-year University of Utah study included 252 patients, who were aged 10 to 14 at the start of the study, and their parents. As the youngsters grew older there was a decline in three markers of parental involvement in monitoring their children's diabetes treatment regimen:

  • Diabetes care behaviors -- for example, parents knowing what their child eats.
  • Parents' acceptance of the child in general, which indicates the quality of their relationship.
  • Assistance with diabetes management tasks, such as getting diabetes supplies for their child.

"The findings suggest that if we could improve the quality of the parent-adolescent relationship and increase parents' monitoring of adolescents' diabetes management, we could improve adolescents' adherence to the type 1 diabetes regimen and, subsequently, their long-term health," study first author Pamela King, a postdoctoral researcher in psychology, said in a university news release.

The study is scheduled to be presented April 9 at the Society of Behavioral Medicine's annual meeting in Seattle.

"Adolescence is a challenging time for those with a chronic illness," King said. "Adolescents experience a variety of biological, psychological and social changes before they reach adulthood. Adolescents with a chronic illness have to cope with these normal developmental challenges while trying to manage the demands of their chronic illness."

More information

The Nemours Foundation has more about type 1 diabetes.

SOURCE: University of Utah, news release, April 7, 2010

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