Aims: To determine the occurrence of microalbuminuria in young people with Type 1 diabetes mellitus followed prospectively for 2 years and to relate the presence of persistent elevations in urinary albumin excretion (UAE) to age, diabetes duration, puberty and other factors.
Methods: During a 2 year period, random urine samples were obtained from 471 patients, aged 8-18 years (mean +/-sd 12.9 +/- 2.3 years) with Type 1 diabetes duration 5.6 +/- 3.0 years, as part of routine clinical care. Urine albumin and creatinine concentrations were measured in 1310 samples (median, 3 samples per patient) and the albumin:creatinine ratio was calculated (in micrograms albumin per milligram creatinine). Height, weight, blood pressure (BP), glycated haemoglobin (HbA(1c)), blood glucose monitoring frequency and Tanner staging were collected from patients' medical records.
Results: Twenty-three per cent of patients had one or more sample with elevated UAE (> or =20 microg/mg) and 9.3% had persistent elevations (> or =2 samples > or =20 microg/mg). Those with and without persistent microalbuminuria did not differ significantly in age, diabetes duration, z-score for body mass index, pubertal status or BP percentile. Ten per cent of children <13 years old and 9% of children > or =13 years old had persistent microalbuminuria. Persistent microalbuminuria was significantly associated with diabetes duration only in older children (duration 0.5-3 years, 4%; 4-6 years, 8%; > or =7 years, 14%; P = 0.02, trend test). Mean HbA(1c) over the 2 years was 8.7 +/- 1.2%. In a logistic regression model, mean HbA(1c) was the only significant predictor of persistent microalbuminuria (odds ratio 1.3, 95% confidence interval 1.0-1.6, P = 0.05).
Conclusions: Microalbuminuria in older children with Type 1 diabetes is likely to be clinically significant. In younger children, it may reflect functional, reversible renal changes. Longitudinal analysis is needed to confirm the probable transient nature of microalbuminuria in young patients with Type 1 diabetes.