The aim of the study was to evaluate the socio-economic status of young adults with type 1 diabetes (T1D) since childhood with particular interest in its relation to the severity of diabetic retinopathy (DR).Methods
During 1989-90 the prevalence of DR was evaluated in a population-based cohort of 5-16-year-old children with T1D living in the catch-area of the Northern Ostrobothnia Hospital District, Finland. These 216 individuals were contacted 18 years later and evaluated for retinopathy as well as asked to fill out a socio-economic status questionnaire.Results
136 subjects (78 men) aged 30±3 years with median T1D duration of 23 years took part in the study. Proliferative DR (PDR) was diagnosed in 42 (31%) their mean age being 31±3 years. 97 (71%) were married, 31 (23%) single and 8 (6%) divorced. 61 subjects (45%) had a total of 123 children. A university degree was held by 12 (9%), that from a university of applied sciences by 45 (33%), 61 (45%) had finished vocational school, 10 (7%) were full-time students while 6 (4%) had received no education after comprehensive school. A full-time job was held by 66 subjects (72%) with no or non-PDR and 24 (57%) with PDR; 4 (4%) vs. 6 (14%) subjects were unemployed, respectively (p=0.071), and none vs. 5 (12%) were on pension, respectively. The patients with PDR were more likely to be outside working life (p=<0.001), but equally likely to have a spouse (p=0.683) and children (p=0.457).Conclusion
The majority of young adults with T1D have an active role in the society with work or study, spouse, and raising children. A third of the patients had PDR, and although they had similar educational level and families, they were more likely not to be taking part in working life than those with less severe DR.