To define the significance of prepubertal diabetes duration in the development of diabetic microvascular complications in adolescents.
Study A compares complications in 38 prepubertal (PreP) and 140 pubertal (Pub) subjects of the same age (10-14 years) and diabetes duration (3–12 years) to determine if the absence of puberty itself confers a lower risk of complications. Study B examines the importance of prepubertal and pubertal diabetes duration in 193 older adolescents (ages 15–22 years) with prepubertal onset of diabetes. Retinopathy status was assessed using stereoscopic fundus photography of seven fields per eye. Albumin excretion rate (AER) was assessed by three consecutive overnight urine collections, using a polyclonal radioimmunoassay.
In study A, there were no significant differences between the PreP and Pub groups for retinopathy (27 vs. 29%, P = 0.8) or differences in elevated AER (17 vs. 31%, P = 0.1). In study B, longer prepubertal diabetes duration improved the prediction for retinopathy over postpubertal duration alone (P < 0.0005). No relationship with duration was found for elevated AER (> 7.5, > 15, and > 30 micrograms/min).
Prepubertal subjects with diabetes did not have less retinopathy or elevated albumin excretion compared with pubertal subjects of the same age. Prepubertal diabetes duration is significantly related to the presence of retinopathy in adolescents.