Screening for complications of diabetes

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Learn how often your child needs to be screened for diabetes complications and what you can expect from each test and screening.

Key points

  • Your child will have regular screening tests for complications of diabetes.
  • Your child will need different tests depending on how long they've had diabetes, and whether they have type 1 or type 2.

Screening for risk factors and complications starts at diagnosis of diabetes. Even though complications rarely occur in children and in teenagers, screening is important because detecting complications at an early stage allows for actions to help slow their progression.

Screening for complications of type 1 diabetes

The diabetes team will recommend on a regular basis some of the following blood and urine tests, and examinations to:

  • screen for complications
  • monitor blood glucose (sugar) control
  • monitor for conditions that occur more often in people with type 1 diabetes.

Your child’s health-care team will advise more frequent testing and interventions if they discover any problems.

Screening for complications of type 1 diabetes
Complication How do we screen for it? How often?
Hypertension (high blood pressure)Blood pressureAt least twice per year
Dyslipidemia (blood fat levels out of range)Blood testScreen at 12 and 17 years of age

Children younger than 12 years of age with risk factors
Nephropathy (kidney damage)Urine sampleYearly screening starting at 12 years of age in those who have had type 1 diabetes longer than 5 years
Retinopathy (eye damage)Eye check-up with an optometrist in your community to detect early diabetic retinopathy

Diabetes eye exams should include a check of the retina. Eye drops are used to widen the pupils so that back of the eye can be seen
Yearly screening starting at 15 years of age for teens who have had type 1 diabetes for longer than 5 years

Screening can increase to once every 2 years for teens who have good glycemic control, have had type 1 diabetes for less than 10 years and did not have retinopathy at the iniitial eye assessment
Neuropathy (nerve damage)Questions and physical examinationYearly screening in adolescents post-puberty with poor control, who have had diabetes for longer than 5 years
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Screening for complications of type 2 diabetes

Because type 2 diabetes can go undetected for a long time, some of these complications may have started by the time of diagnosis. For this reason, the screening for complications in children with type 2 diabetes should start at diagnosis.

Your child’s health-care team will recommend some of the following blood and urine tests.

The health-care team will recommend more frequent testing and interventions if they discover any problems.

Screening for complications of type 2 diabetes
Complication How do we screen for it? How often?
Hypertension (high blood pressure)Blood pressureAt every diabetes visit after diagnosis (at least twice a year)
Dyslipidemia (blood fat levels out of range)Fasting blood testAt diagnosis and every 1-3 years after
Nephropathy (kidney damage)Urine testYearly screening starting at diagnosis
Retinopathy (eye damage)Eye check-up with an optometrist in your community to detect early diabetic retinopathy

Diabetes eye exams should include a check of the retina. Eye drops are used to widen the pupils so that back of the eye can be seen
Yearly screening starting at diagnosis
Neuropathy (nerve damage)Questions and physical examinationYearly screening starting at diagnosis
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Last updated: November 20th 2017