To determine on a large scale the multiple medical and nonmedical factors that influence glycemic control in the general population of children with diabetes, we performed a nationwide French cross-sectional study.
We enrolled 2,579 patients aged 1–19 years with type 1 diabetes of > 1 year's duration. The study was center based: 270 centers were identified, 206 agreed to participate, and 147 included at least 90% of their patients. Questionnaires were completed by physicians interviewing patients and family, and HbA1c measurements were centralized. To identify explanatory variables for HbA1c level and frequency of severe hypoglycemia, we performed multiple regression analysis using all the quantitative variables collected and stepwise logistic regression for the qualitative variables.
Mean HbA1c value for the whole population was 8.97 ± 1.98% (normal 4.7 ± 0.7% [SD]). Only 19 children (0.7%) had ketoacidosis during the 6 months before the study, whereas 593 severe hypoglycemia events occurred in 338 children (13.8%). Control was better in university-affiliated hospitals and centers following > 50 patients, reflecting the importance of access to experienced diabetologists. Children had a mean of 2.3 injections, allegedly performed 2.8 glucose measurements per day, and were seen an average of 4.6 times per year at the center. In the multiple regression analysis, 94% of the variance of HbA1c was explained by our pool of selected variables, with the highest regression coefficient between HbA1c and age (Rc = 0.43, P < 0.0001), then with daily insulin dosage per kilogram (Rc = 0.28, P < 0.0001), mother's age (Rc = 0.26, P < 0.0001), frequency of glucose measurements (Rc = 0.21, P < 0.0001), and diabetes duration (Rc = 0.14, P < 0.0001). Logistic regression identified quality of family support and dietary compliance, two related qualitative and possibly subjective variables, as additional explanatory determinants of HbA1c. The frequency of severe hypoglycemia was 45 per 100 patient-years and correlated with diabetes duration, but not with HbA1c levels or other variables.
Although overall results remain unsatisfactory, 33% of studied French children with type 1 diabetes had HbA1c <8%, the value obtained in Diabetes Control and Complications Trial adolescents treated intensively. Diabetes management in specialized centers should be encouraged.