The pathogeneses of diabetic neuropathy is still unclear. This study prospectively investigated the risk factors for distal symmetrical polyneuropathy (DSP) in a cohort of childhood-onset IDDM patients. Subjects from the Epidemiology of Diabetes Complications (EDC) Study were clinically examined at baseline and then biennially. DSP was diagnosed by a combination of clinical criteria, symptoms and signs (Diabetes Control and Complications Trial [DCCT] exam), and quantitative sensory threshold (QST). Among the 463 (70.4%) subjects who were free of DSP at baseline, 453 (97.8%) participated in at least one biennial reexamination during the first 6 years of follow-up and were included in the current analysis. A total of 68 (15.0%) subjects developed DSP in 6 years, giving a cumulative probability of 0.29. The Cox proportional hazards model shows that longer IDDM duration, hypertension, poor glycemic control, height, and smoking were all independent predictors of the incidence of DSP (all P < 0.0001, except for smoking for which P = 0.03). Hypertension showed the greatest impact on the development of DSP for individuals with either short or long IDDM duration. This study confirms some risk factors for DSP found in crosssectional studies and suggests a strong relationship between hypertension and DSP. The results indicate that in addition to good glycemic control, avoidance of smoking and good blood pressure control may be helpful in preventing or delaying the onset of DSP in IDDM patients.

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