One in five diagnosed with type 1 diabetes are aged over 40

by Barbara Hewitt on March 7, 2014

It has always been thought that type 1 diabetes is diagnosed in childhood and rarely among adults but it has now been revealed that thousands of cases of are being diagnosed in middle aged adults.

Indeed, new figures show that more than one in five people with the disease are over the age of 40 at the time of their diagnosis. The data comes at a time when a number of high profile people have revealed they have type 1 diabetes, including British Home Secretary Theresa May.


Clinicians and the general public need to be aware of the possibility of the onset of type 1 diabetes in older patients according to researchers

The data comes from an analysis from the National Diabetes Audit in the UK which shows that of the 8,952 people who were diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2011/2012, more than a fifth, 2,035, were aged 40 and over when they learnt of their condition and of those, more than 500 were aged over 69.

The figures were revealed at the 2014 Diabetes UK Professional Conference and further highlight the fact that although type 1 diabetes is commonly diagnosed in children between the ages of 10 and 14 years, the autoimmune condition can develop at any age.

The announcement was made to coincide with new research from the Royal Gwent Hospital in Wales, which suggests that some people are not being diagnosed early enough because of a lack of awareness about late onset type 1 diabetes, putting them at greater risk of serious complications such as ketoacidosis before their condition is identified.

‘Type 1 diabetes is a very serious condition that predominantly develops in the young but our study shows that clinicians and the general public need to be aware of the possibility of the onset of type 1 diabetes in older patients and that it is never too late for diabetic ketoacidosis,’ said lead researcher for the study Dr Triveni Shekaraiah.

Simon O’Neill, director for Health Intelligence and Professional Liaison for charity Diabetes UK, said that the study highlights that type 1 diabetes is not just a condition that strikes the young.

‘We hear of reports where people who develop the condition later in life are only diagnosed once they are seriously ill. This is why it is really important that healthcare professionals do not rule out the possibility of symptoms being type 1 just because the person is older,’ he explained.

‘It is also important that the public understands that if they have any of the symptoms of type 1 diabetes that they need to go to see their GP,’ he added.

Symptoms of type 1 diabetes include being tired, thirsty, losing weight and going to the toilet a lot, especially at night.



The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the Community and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please see your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes management plan.

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