Young Minnesotans with diabetes less likely to get long-term blood sugar level testing

Whether it’s Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, both require blood sugar management. New research by the Minnesota Department of Health shows young Minnesotans are less likely to know their blood sugar or A1C levels. 

“We found that younger adults, or adults that are 18-44 years of age, were a little less likely to have their blood sugars checked each year,” said Renee Kidney, Minnesota Department of Health Diabetes Program epidemiologist. “They were more likely to smoke, they were more likely to report having depression than adults who were middle aged or older.”

According to the new research published in the CDC medical journal, there are more than 300,000 Minnesotans battling diabetes. Sixteen percent of those are under the age of 45. Researchers discovered that young cohort was three to five times more likely to end up in the hospital with high blood sugar or ketoacidosis, which leads to other health consequences.

“This is the time when most people have families and having elevated blood sugars can make it harder for you to start a family,” said Kidney. “And if you are woman and your blood sugars aren’t in control during your pregnancy, there are increased risks of birth defects among the babies and also complications during the birth.”  

It’s not known how health insurance or the high cost of insulin plays into these new findings. Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson is currently suing three major insulin makers for price gouging, but none of that explains why many young adults are not managing their blood sugars.

Kidney says the big takeaway is diabetics should be having honest conversations with their doctors.

“Your doctor is trying to help you how to manage your diabetes, but there’s no way your doctor knows all of the factors that go into that,” she said. “What your employment looks like, what you can afford to pay for medications, what your schedule is like.”

The research showed that only 40 percent of young Minnesotans with diabetes are meeting their A1C goals. The Department of Health says it points to the need to have age-stratified monitoring diabetic care across the state so that diabetes care can improve.