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Mother’s Education Affects Blood Sugar Control in Children with Type 1

For children with type 1, the level of education a mother has completed directly affects how well the disease is managed in her child. 

The study

Researchers in Denmark found a direct link between blood glucose control in children and the level of education their mothers had completed.

In Denmark, everyone has access to universal tax-financed healthcare. Even though patients all had access to the same insurance, the results in children’s metabolic control varied.

Study leader Nick Nielsen and his team from the University of Copenhagen studied 4,079 children with type 1 from 2000 to 2013. The patients were separated into groups based on their mother’s education level: no college, vocational college, bachelor’s degree, and master’s degree. 

The higher the level of education in the mother, the lower the overall HbA1c levels. Children of mothers with higher levels of education also had a  lower risk of diabetic ketoacidosis and dangerous bouts of hypoglycemia. The HbA1c averages were:

  • 7.6 percent in children whose mothers had advanced degrees
  • 7.9 percent in children whose mothers had bachelor’s degrees
  • 8.2 percent in children whose mothers graduated from vocational college
  • 8.4 percent in children whose mothers received no higher education

The American Diabetes Association recommends that children with type 1 stay under 7.5 percent HbA1c .

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Reasons for the findings

Possible reasons for these results are that mothers with higher education levels tested their children’s blood sugar more often. In addition, higher-educated mothers were better able to manage their children’s day-to-day diabetes needs and teach them how to manage their condition themselves. 

Implications of the findings

The results hint at the need for greater support programs for children in the first few years of their type 1 diagnosis. One type of support could come in the form of patient groups that help patients connect and give each other advice. The study authors wrote: “For clinicians and policymakers, our results suggest that it may be beneficial to provide extra support to the least privileged children during the first few years of diabetes.”

The study was published in Diabetes Care