Introduction: The incidence of type 1 diabetes (T1D) is increasing worldwide, particularly in children, and is associated with a significant burden, mainly related to the development of vascular complications. The prevention and treatment of microvascular complications, which include nephropathy, retinopathy and neuropathy, are of paramount importance to decrease the associated mortality and morbidity.
Sources of data: A literature search was performed on Medline and articles on microvascular complications, with particular emphasis on the increasing incidence of childhood T1D and its implications on prevention and treatment of complications, were selected.
Areas of agreement: The incidence of childhood T1D is increasing. Early identification of subjects at risk for long-term complications and early implementation of preventive and therapeutic strategies are fundamental in order to reduce the burden associated with microvascular complications of diabetes. Improving glycaemic control is the principle way of preventing and treating T1D complications.
Areas of controversy: In adults with T1D and microvascular complications, treatment with anti-hypertensive drugs and statins is increasingly common, whereas there are no definitive indications for treatment with these drugs in children and adolescents with early signs of complications.
Growing points: There is growing interest in the development of new preventive and therapeutic strategies targeting specific pathways implicated in the pathogenesis of microvascular complications.
Areas timely for developing research: Investigations to clarify genetic and environmental factors implicated in the pathogenesis of microvascular complications could lead to the identification of biochemical markers with high predictive values, to be used as a guide for screening and intervention programmes.