To be diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes is to become your own personal medical professional. Sometimes I think a diagnosis should come with a medical degree, because we have to learn so much about diabetes so quickly. But even if you’ve been managing diabetes for a long time like I have, every now and then, you still come across new information that surprises you. Here are five surprising type 1 diabestes statistics you may not have known:
1. The Number of Children Diagnosed T1 in the United States is Virtually the Same Number as the Number of Adults. This is surprising, because so many people still think of T1 as “juvenile diabetes.” The name was changed, in part, to reflect the reality, that Type 1 diabetes can happen just as often in a young adult as a child. Hence, according to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, the number of children diagnosed T1 is over 15,000. Same for the diagnosed adults. And overall, of course, most people who have “juvenile diabetes” are adults – 85 percent.
2. A Majority of People with Diabetes Don’t Make Use of Technology That Can Help. A recent study presented at a joint meeting of the International Society of Endocrinology and the Endocrine Society found that nearly 70 percent of us don’t extract data about our blood sugar levels from our insulin pumps or other self-monitoring devices. Because of this, these devices “are not being used to their full potential,” says Dr. Jenise Wong, the study’s principal investigator, in Science Daily.
3. Hypos Happen, Even in Hospitals. A recent audit of hospital stays by people with diabetes found that 30 percent of Type 1 patients admitted to hospitals experienced “a severe hypo within the last seven days.” (They define severe as a blood glucose level below 3.0 mmol/l.) Diabetes UK, which released the report, is rightly calling for action.
4. Pumps or Pens? According to Diabetes.co.uk, just one in 1,000 people – or about 6 percent – use a pump to administer insulin. Insulin pens are the “dominant delivery system in much of the world,” according to Sara Da Costa, Betty Brackenridge and Debbie Hicks, authors of a study entitled “Insulin Pen Use in the United States and the United Kingdom.” The study cites portability, ease of use, accuracy, and the ability to be discreet, as reasons for the popularity of pens.
5. Our Survival Rates Are Still Climbing. Just two generations ago, one in five people who were diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes died within 20 years, according to the National Institute for Health. (That figure climbed to one in three if you stretch the term to 25 years.) Now the number is substantially less – 3.5 percent within 20 years, 7 percent within 25. That’s good news, but a sobering reminder that diabetes demands constant vigilance of our health and our routines. Using the tools that are now available for the T1 community, we can take even better care of ourselves – all the while living fuller, richer lives.