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"Children and families found it easier to manage this disease when they were forced to stay at home. This helps us to understand the pressure that is put on patients and families when trying to live normal busy lives with activities outside of the home," said lead researcher Dr. Neil Lawrence, of Sheffield Children's Hospital NHS Foundation Trust in Sheffield, England.
The research team compared how well 180 children and teens in two U.K. communities controlled their type 1 diabetes in the 12 weeks before and the 12 weeks after the lockdown began on March 23, 2020. The investigators found a significant improvement in blood sugar levels after the start of the lockdown, when children were home.
The youngsters' average long-term blood sugar measurement (HbA1C) fell, and blood sugar readings were less variable and more often in the range that researchers asked them to achieve (3.9 to 10 mmol/L).
The study was presented virtually on Monday at the Endocrine Society's annual meeting.
"The findings demonstrate the difficulties faced by patients and families managing type 1 diabetes around school pressures, meals away from home, social life and peer pressure," Lawrence said in a meeting news release.
"We need to give them extra support at school and when they go out socializing to prevent them from developing unfortunate complications in later life," he added.
Children with this disease need parents, teachers and other caregivers to communicate well and work as a team to prevent related long-term health problems that are caused by poor blood glucose control, Lawrence stressed.
"This gives us important insights into where advice, education and support should be directed," he said. Lawrence added that the use of remote video and phone consultations going forward can be beneficial both for families and for clinicians.
Findings presented at meetings are usually considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.
SOURCE: Endocrine Society, news release, March 20, 2021
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