Children with type 1 diabetes are almost five times more likely than others to be admitted to hospital for any reason, according to research in Wales.
Pre-school children and those from disadvantaged backgrounds are most at risk, suggest findings from a study, which also identified links between higher admission levels and being treated at smaller centres.
“There is a large excess of hospital admissions in paediatric patients with type 1 diabetes”
Researchers analysed causes of hospital admission among 1,577 children diagnosed with diabetes between 1999 and 2009 in the Brecon area.
Around 20% children had been diagnosed before the age of five and 40% after the age of 10. Their hospital records were compared with those of 7,800 children admitted to hospital without diabetes.
The results, published in the journal BMJ Open, showed that children with type 1 diabetes were almost five times as likely to be admitted to hospital for any cause as their peers.
Pre-schoolers were at highest risk of admission. Over the age of five, the risk fell by more than 15% for every five year rise in age at diagnosis.
Although there was no gender difference in risk, coming from a disadvantaged background was associated with an increased risk of hospital admission.
In addition, those whose outpatient care was delivered at large centres were 16% less likely to be admitted to hospital as those treated in small centres, said the study authors.
They noted that further research into “understanding the reason for higher admission rates in smaller units is clearly important”.
“Large tertiary centres may have more specialist medical or nursing staff available to resolve patient problems without need for admission, particularly through ‘out of hours’ support, or age-specific diabetes education packages,” they suggested.
Regarding their overall findings, the authors stated: “This is an area of great clinical importance, as patients admitted to hospital with diabetes aged under 30 years have a death rate nine times that of the general population.”