FRIDAY, Aug. 5, 2022 (HealthDay News) â€“ Kids with type 1 diabetes and their closest relatives are more likely to experience mental health issues than people without the disease, Swedish researchers report.
â€œMany clinicians assume intuitively that diabetes in a child negatively affects the mental health of both the patient and the family members,â€ said study co-author Agnieszka Butwicka, an assistant professor at the Karolinska Institute in Solna. â€œBut we think the answer is not that simple. Our study indicates that there could also be a genetic component behind this association.â€
The findings â€” published Aug. 1 in the journal Diabetes Care â€” highlight the importance of mental health screening both for children with diabetes and their families. These mental health problems include depression, anxiety and stress-related disorders.
Researchers said the International Society for Pediatric and Adolescent Diabetes' current screening guidelines for kids with type 1 diabetes do not adequately address the needs of family members, who are also at risk for mental health issues. Researchers said it's unclear why type 1 diabetes and familial mental health issues are intertwined.
The study linked roughly 3.5 million people born in Sweden between 1973 and 2007 with their parents, full and half-siblings, and cousins. More than 20,000 were diagnosed in childhood with type 1 diabetes, and researchers found that they had nearly double the risk for depression and about 1.6 times the risk of anxiety and stress-related disorders than those without the disease.
In addition, their parents and full siblings had slightly higher risks for anxiety and stress-related disorders. Half-siblings and cousins had only slightly higher risks or none, the study found.
â€œThese results are of high clinical relevance because they mean that therapeutic intervention should also involve close family members, not just patients,â€ Butwicka said in an institute news release.
The results suggest genetics may be a factor since parents, children and full siblings share more genetic material (about 50%) than half siblings (about 25%), and cousins (less than 12.5%), researchers said.
Because this was an observational study, it does not prove what caused the associations.
â€œMore studies are needed to fully understand the underlying genetic and environmental contributions driving psychiatric disorders in type 1 diabetes,â€ said corresponding author Shengxin Liu, a doctoral student at Karolinska Institute.
The nonprofit Mental Health America has more about diabetes and mental health.
SOURCE: Swedish Research Council, Karolinska Institute, Aug. 1, 2022
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