Background: Vascular complications curtail life expectancy and quality of life in type 1 diabetes and development at younger ages is particularly detrimental. To date no review has summarised the prevalence or factors predicting their development in young adults.
Methods: A quantitative epidemiological systematic review was conducted to identify the prevalence and predictive factors for development of retinopathy, nephropathy and hypertension in young adults (sample age mean [plus 1SD] 18-30 years) with type 1 diabetes, using processes adapted from established review methods set out by the Centre for Reviews and Dissemination.MEDLINE (Ovid), Scopus (Elsevier), CINAHL, Science Direct (Elsevier), Google Scholar and Cochrane databases were searched to identify relevant articles published between 1993 and June 2014. From this eleven papers were retrieved, appraised and results summarised by three reviewers using established methods.
Results: Some form of retinopathy occurred in up to almost half of participants; more severe forms affected up to one in ten. One in six was reported with microalbuminuria; one in 14 had macroalbuminuria. Hypertension occurred in almost one in two participants. Applying out-dated high thresholds this decreased to approximately one in ten participants. Glycaemic control was a consistent predictor of vascular disease in this age group.
Conclusion: Prevalence rates of retinopathy, nephropathy and hypertension in young adults with type 1 diabetes emphasise the importance of regular complication screening for early detection and treatment. The predictive effect of glycaemic control reinforces its importance for prevention of vascular complications.