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Children With Type 1 Diabetes Often Experience Depressive Symptoms

Posted: Friday, June 30, 2006

Depressive symptoms are common among children and adolescents with type 1 diabetes, according to researchers, who found evidence of depressive symptoms in 15% of the young diabetics in their study.

Dr. Lori M. B. Laffel and colleagues from Harvard Medical School, Boston, assessed the association between depressive symptoms in this population and demographic, diabetes-specific, and family-functioning variables. Included in the study were 145 youth and their parents. Mean duration of diabetes was 8.3 years, and mean HbA1c (A1C) was 8.7%.

The Children's Depression Inventory, a 27-item self-report questionnaire, was used to assess depressive symptoms - with a score of 13 or higher indicating elevated depressive symptoms. Parents of the children also completed the Children's Depression Inventory, with regard to their children. A parent score of 17 or higher indicated elevated depressive symptoms in the youth.
The investigators also used the Diabetes Family Conflict Scale to examine diabetes-specific family conflict across 19 diabetes management tasks, and the Diabetes Family Responsibility Questionnaire was used to evaluate family responsibility for diabetes tasks.

Other measures included the Blood Glucose Monitoring' Communication questionnaire, which assessed emotional responses to the youth's high and low blood glucose values, and parents completed Pediatric Assessment in Diabetes Survey, which examined perceived burden related to diabetes care. The findings are published in the June issue of Diabetes Care.

Dr. Laffel's team found that 15.2% of the young diabetic had symptoms of depression, which also correlated with significantly higher HbA1c levels (p = 0.02).

Higher levels of patient-reported rates of diabetes-specific family conflict (p = 0.001); youth-reported negative affect (p = 0.03); and parent-reported diabetes-specific burden (p = 0.03) were significant predictors of higher scores on the Children's Depression Inventory, the researchers report.

There was also significant correlation between parent and youth reports of youth-depressive symptoms. Overall, 83% of parent-youth pairs agreed about whether depressive symptoms were present or not.

These findings suggest that clinicians should pay close attention to the emotional function in children with diabetes, as well as the influence of their family situation, to promote optimal management of these children, the researchers conclude.


Source: Diabetes In Control: Diabetes Care 2006;29:1389-1391

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