Transition from pediatric to adult diabetes care: smooth or slippery?

Pediatr Diabetes. 2010 Feb;11(1):24-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1399-5448.2009.00524.x. Epub 2009 Dec 14.


Objectives: The purpose of this study is to evaluate the practices of diabetes health care providers concerning the transition from pediatric to adult diabetes care. The information presented here may help increase awareness of the organization of transitional care for young people with diabetes and prevent the loss of follow-up during this vulnerable period in their lives.

Methods: A questionnaire with an explanatory letter was sent to all members (n = 578) of the International Society for Pediatric and Adolescent Diabetes (ISPAD). A follow-up mailing was sent 4 months later.

Results: In total, 92 questionnaires (16%) from members representing 36 countries were included in the analysis. In 76% of the centers, youth are seen until the age of 18 yr; 36% of the pediatric centers see adults > 25 yr; 30% report children under the age of 16 receive follow up from adult diabetologists or internists. About half of the programs already have a structured transition process usually targeting youth 16-25 yr of age. The majority of responders propose that preparation for transition starts at least 1 yr prior to leaving the pediatric center.

Conclusion: Youth with type 1 diabetes often struggle to keep diabetes management a priority and find it challenging to maintain optimal metabolic control. When they graduate from pediatric care, some of these young people opt out of care altogether, only to resurface in the medical system when they develop complications which may have been prevented. Our survey of diabetes health care professionals in 36 countries worldwide shows that the actual transition practices in many places are far from optimal and require improvement. Transitional care should start early and strategies should promote uninterrupted, comprehensive, and accessible adult care.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Continuity of Patient Care*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / therapy*
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult