Young-onset diabetes is a heterogeneous and aggressive phenotype associated with increased risk for death and complications compared with usual-onset diabetes. Its prevalence is increasing rapidly worldwide, especially in Asian populations, where 1 in 5 adults with type 2 diabetes has young-onset disease. Young-onset diabetes is associated with poorly-controlled risk factors, yet its effect on hospitalization rates is not known.
Researchers at The Chinese University of Hong Kong examined two large cohorts of Chinese adults with type 2 diabetes to determine the effects of age at onset and modifiable risk factors on hospitalization during the working lifespan, or ages 20 to 75. Using the Hong Kong Diabetes Registry, the researchers computed hospitalization rates for both cohorts. They found that adults with young-onset diabetes, had excess hospitalizations across their lifespan compared with persons with usual-onset diabetes, but also found a previously unknown link between young-onset diabetes and hospitalization for mental illness. According to the researchers, these findings suggest that efforts to prevent diabetes early in life are crucial. In addition, there is an urgent need to find ways to control cardiometabolic risk factors while focusing on mental health.