Hypoglycaemia is frequently the limiting factor in achieving optimal glycaemic control. Therefore, insulin therapy, the incidence of hypoglycaemia, and glycaemic control were investigated in 6309 unselected children with type 1 diabetes in a large-scale multicentre study. Using standardised computer-based documentation, the incidence of severe hypoglycaemia, HbA1( c) levels, insulin regimen, diabetes duration, and the number of patients attending a treatment centre were investigated for the age groups 0-<5 years ( n =782), 5-<7 years ( n =1053), and 7-<9 years ( n =4474). The average HbA1( c) level was 7.6% (no significant difference between age groups). Young children had more severe hypoglycaemic events (31.2/100 patient years) as compared to older children (19.7; 21.7/100 patient years, P <0.05) independent of the treatment regimen. Our data suggest that diabetes centres treating less than 50 patients per year have a higher incidence of hypoglycaemia in 0-<5-year-old children (43.0/100 patient years) as compared to larger centres (24.1/100 patient years; P <0.0001). Significant predictors of hypoglycaemia were younger age ( P <0.0001), longer diabetes duration ( P <0.0001), higher insulin dose/kg per day ( P <0.0001), injection regimen ( P <0.0005), and centre experience ( P <0.05).
Conclusion: Despite modern treatment, young children have an elevated risk for developing severe hypoglycaemia compared to older children, especially when treated at smaller diabetes centres. The therapeutic goal of carefully regulating metabolic control without developing hypoglycaemia has still not been achieved. Further advances in diabetic treatment may result from giving more attention to hypoglycaemia in young children.