Type 1 Versus Type 2: Complications in Youth with Diabetes

Young individuals with type 2 diabetes are more likely to develop condition-related complications than their type 1 counterparts.

Young individuals with type 2 diabetes are more likely to develop condition-related complications than their type 1 counterparts. The results are part of the latest findings of the SEARCH for Diabetes Youth study, which was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the CDC, and conducted research regarding diabetes complications in young patients.1

The study’s researchers noted that teens and young adults with type 2 diabetes are at an increased risk of developing kidney, nerve, and eye diseases than their peers with type 1 diabetes. Researchers gathered the results by evaluating youth with type 1 and type 2 diabetes, and examining how quickly and often they developed signs of complications.

Among the participants, those with type 2 diabetes exhibited signs of complications more often in nearly every measure than those with type 1. The findings showed:

  • Nearly 20% developed a sign of kidney disease versus 6% with type 1
  • About 18% developed nerve disease versus about 9% with type 1
  • About 9% developed eye disease versus 6% with type 1
  • Measures for hypertension and arterial stiffness were greater in those with type 2 diabetes, but close to equal for cardiovascular autonomic neuropathy.

Barbara Linder, MD, study author and senior advisor for childhood diabetes research at the NIH’s Institute of Diabetes and Digestive Kidney Disease, noted that the results challenge assumptions that young people don’t develop complications from diabetes.

“Particularly for youth with type 2, this research demonstrates the clear need to learn how to reduce or delay the debilitating complications of diabetes, itself a huge challenge for young people to manage,” Dr. Linder said in a press release. 2

The authors concluded that the study demonstrates a greater need for early monitoring for the development of complications among young adults and teens with diabetes so that health care providers can delay the onset of these complications.


  • Dabelea D, Stafford JM, Mayer-Davis EJ, et al. Association of type 1 diabetes vs type 2 diabetes diagnosed during childhood and adolescence with complications during teenage years and young adulthood. JAMA. 2017;317(8):825-835. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.0686.

2. Youth with type 2 diabetes develop complications more often than type 1 peers [news release]. NIH’s website.

https://www.nih.gov/news- events/news-releases/youth-type-2-diabetes-develop-complications-more-often-type-1-peers. Accessed Mar. 1,


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