This report explores how young Australians (aged 0-30 years) with diabetes are managing their condition, their use of health services, and the diabetes-related morbidity and mortality that 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.