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."