A new study presented at the annual meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) in Barcelona, Spain, suggests that men who have type 1 diabetes can control their blood sugar levels better compared to women though there is no significant difference in blood sugar control between boys and girls.
The research is by Professor Sarah Wild, University of Edinburgh, UK, and colleagues from the International quality of care for type 1 diabetes group.
Since there are limited data showing differences in blood sugar control in type 1 diabetes between the sexes, Wild and colleagues investigated this issue using a large international dataset analysing patients from 12 countries (Austria, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Latvia, New Zealand, Norway, Scotland, Slovenia, Sweden, Ukraine, United States), representing a total of 142,260 child and adult patients.
The researchers analysed blood sugar control over the previous 12 to 24 months derived from both population-based registers and clinic databases. The comparison was the proportions of people with HbA1c ≥7.5% (58mmol/mol) for females compared to males, adjusted for age and duration of diabetes within three age strata that broadly represent paediatric (<15 years), young adult (15-29 years) and adult populations (≥30 years).
The team found that proportions of people with HbA1c ≥7.5% (and therefore worse blood sugar control) ranged from 64.4% in boys <15 years of age to 74.0% in women of 15-29 years old. In the youngest age group there was no statistically significant difference between boys and girls. In the two older age categories, women aged 15-29 years were 8% more likely to miss the target and have HbA1c ≥7.5% then men of the same age, and women aged 30 years and over were 6% more likely to miss the target than men in the same age group.
Dr Wild concludes: "In this analysis of type 1 diabetes data from several countries males were more likely to have a better blood sugar control profile than females. Further work is required to investigate explanations for this finding."
She adds: "One explanation could be that women tend to have lower haemoglobin levels than men which could explain the higher HbA1c levels, but further research is required to confirm this."