Really? We need a study for this??

April 28th, 2010 by Amy Gonsalves Leave a reply »

The ADA reported today on a study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health about teens and type 1 diabetes.  Researchers followed 147 teens and their A1c levels as they moved from teenage years into young adulthood.

The study concluded that not only do teens have to face the typical stresses of adolescence, but they have to deal with increased responsibility for their disease: “a rise in HA1c levels is common in adolescence and early adulthood, researchers noted, as patients with type 1 diabetes transition from parental guidance to personal responsibility in managing their blood sugar levels.”


Few things.

  1. Duh.  (I can’t believe people get paid to conduct some of these “studies.”)
  2. No mention of hormones… or how fluctuations in hormone levels affect blood glucose levels.  You’d think a study about teens and management of blood glucose levels might mention hormones.
  3. No mention of emotional stresses between parents and teens, and how emotional stress affects blood glucose levels.  Strike two.
  4. No mention of how many of those emotional stresses are directly related to the teens’ diabetes and their self management.
  5. Props for the title “Managing Type 1 Diabetes Can Stress Teens” yet I still see the word “control” running rampant throughout at least the abstract.  (I couldn’t access the full Journal of Adolescent Health article online; if you have it, please send me a copy!!)

Apparently teens don’t check their blood glucose as often as they did when they were younger and when (I assume) their parents told them to check and they were still doing whatever their parents asked. 

This would seem pretty obvious to me.  Teens don’t think a whole lot about managing their body on the whole, with or without diabetes—they are busy figuring out how to navigate into adulthood and more importantly, where the car keys are! 

But here is what I’m looking at. 

We need to find for you and your family a way to remove diabetes as a hot spot in as many interactions as possible.  Clearly, parents are better able to see diabetes as a lifelong disease for their son or daughter.  Yet parents are also so full of love for their son or daughter that perhaps there are times they can’t see ways they really might help.  Use your experiences and really listen to your teen and try to figure out what help they really need to deal more directly with their disease.

I’m not saying stop caring, and I’m not saying stop checking.  Sometimes, though, it’s important to recognize that your teen may be doing as much as they can do with their diabetes at any given moment, and unseen factors like stress and hormones may well be working against those efforts. 

Keep up the work you all do to recognize that a check is just gathering data and not a chance for a value judgment.  Recognize that your love for your teen and your need for them to stay healthy despite their disease may feel overwhelming to both you and your teen.  Recognize the efforts they already make every day.  They won’t always make the “right” choices when it comes to their disease.  They won’t always make the “right” choices in any aspect of their lives. 

Love them anyway, with open arms.

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