Conference Coverage

ADA/EASD draft guidance aims to bring adults with type 1 diabetes out of shadows


A new draft consensus statement from the American Diabetes Association and the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) addresses diagnosis and management of type 1 diabetes in adults.

Dr. Anne Peters, director of the USC Clinical Diabetes Programs and a professor of medicine at Keck School of Medicine of USC

Dr. Anne Peters

The impetus for the document comes from the “highly influential” EASD-ADA consensus report on the management of type 2 diabetes, which led to the realization that a comparable document was needed for adults with type 1 diabetes, said writing panel cochair Anne L. Peters, MD, professor of clinical medicine at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles.

“In recent years, there have been rapid advances in the treatment of type 1 diabetes together with a growing recognition of the psychosocial burden of living with [it],” Dr. Peters said.

She noted that although there is already some guidance available for the management of type 1 diabetes in adults, “this gets admixed into broader guidelines, and many of those are mostly derived from data in people with type 2 diabetes.”

The new draft document was coauthored by 14 content experts in type 1 diabetes, with equal numbers from the United States and Europe.

We want to be helpful to clinicians

Topics covered include diagnosis of type 1 diabetes, goals of therapy and glycemic targets, schedule of care, diabetes self-management education and additional behavioral considerations, glucose monitoring, insulin therapy, hypoglycemia, psychosocial care, diabetic ketoacidosis, pancreas and islet cell transplantation, adjunctive therapies, special populations (including pregnant women, older adults, and inpatient management), and emergent/future perspectives, including beta-cell replacement and immunotherapy.

At the end of the document are tables of glycemic targets for adults with type 1 diabetes, schedule of care, nonglycemic factors that alter A1c levels, standardized continuous glucose meter (CGM) metrics for clinical care, examples of subcutaneous insulin regimens, and the various properties of approved and nonapproved adjunctive therapies for type 1 diabetes, including metformin, pramlintide, GLP-1 agonists, and SGLT2 inhibitors.

Several colorful flowcharts are also provided, including algorithms for diagnosing and managing type 1 diabetes in adults.

Document coauthor M. Sue Kirkman, MD, of the Diabetes Care Center’s Clinical Trials Unit at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, told this news organization: “We want it to be helpful to clinicians who are diagnosing type 1 diabetes in adults or caring for adults with type 1 diabetes, whether diagnosed in childhood or adulthood.”

The authors presented an overview of the document in a symposium on June 28 at the virtual ADA scientific sessions. The final version will be presented Oct. 1 at the EASD 2021 annual meeting.

The draft document and video of the ADA meeting presentation are both available on the ADA website.

New algorithm to reduce misdiagnosis of type 1 diabetes in adults

Misdiagnosis of adult-onset type 1 diabetes is common, occurring in up to 40% of those who develop the condition after age 30 years, said J. Hans de Vries, MD, PhD, medical director, Profil Institute for Metabolic Research, Neuss, Germany.

Dr. J. Hans de Vries, medical director, Profil Institute for Metabolic Research, Neuss, Germany

Dr. J. Hans de Vries

There are multiple reasons for this, including the fact that obesity and type 2 diabetes are becoming more prevalent at younger ages, C-peptide levels may still be relatively high at the time of clinical type 1 diabetes onset, and islet autoantibodies don’t have 100% positive predictive value.

“No single feature confirms type 1 diabetes in isolation,” Dr. de Vries noted.

The document provides a detailed diagnostic algorithm specifically for adults in whom type 1 diabetes is suspected, starting with autoantibody measurement. If the diagnosis isn’t confirmed that way, the algorithm advises investigating for monogenic diabetes, including use of a maturity-onset diabetes of the young (MODY) calculator and subsequent C-peptide measurement.

Measurement of C-peptide is also recommended if the diabetes type is still uncertain more than 3 years after diabetes onset in those treated with insulin, because by that point it is likely to be <200 pmol/L in people with type 1 diabetes.

Clear statements on diabetes technology, preferred insulins

The draft document clearly states that physiologic insulin replacement using a pump or multiple daily injections, CGM, and analog rather than human insulin are standards of care for adults with type 1 diabetes. Use of hybrid closed-loop insulin delivery systems is advised when available, as they offer the “greatest benefits.”

However, the document also notes that in cases of cost barriers, subcutaneous regimens of human regular and NPH insulin may be used. It cautions, though, that these may result in higher glucose variability, higher risk of hypoglycemia, and less lifestyle flexibility.

Dr. Kirkman told this news organization: “Using human insulins such as NPH and Regular in type 1 diabetes is definitely not preferred, but sometimes due to people’s inability to afford analogs we have to use them. People need to know how to use them safely.”

As for the do-it-yourself insulin delivery systems, which many with type 1 diabetes now use with open-source software algorithms that reverse-engineer older pumps, the document advises that health care providers shouldn’t actively recommend them as they’re not approved by regulatory authorities, but should also “respect the individual’s right to make informed choices and continue to offer support,” Dr. Kirkman said when presenting the insulin therapy section.

Psychosocial aspects of type 1 diabetes ‘underappreciated’

Special emphasis is placed on psychosocial support, which may be overlooked in adults, Dr. Kirkman noted.

“Clinicians probably underappreciate what people with type 1 diabetes go through on a daily basis. A lot of the evidence out there regarding psychosocial issues is in children and families of children with type 1 diabetes, or in adults with type 2 diabetes ... Maximizing quality of life needs to be at the forefront of care, not just focusing on glycemic goals.”

Indeed, between 20% and 40% of people with type 1 diabetes experience diabetes-related emotional distress – including 15% with depression – particularly at the time of diagnosis and when complications develop, noted Frank J. Snoek, PhD, professor of medical psychology at Amsterdam University Medical Center, the Netherlands.

To address this, the draft advises that “self-management difficulties, psychological, and social problems” be screened periodically and monitored using validated screening tools.

“Health care providers should be proficient at asking questions about and discussing emotional health, psychological needs, and social challenges as part of the consultation,” Dr. Snoek said.

Dr. Peters disclosed ties with Abbott Diabetes Care, AstraZeneca, Lilly, Medscape, Novo Nordisk, Vertex, and Zealand, Omada, and Teladoc. Dr. Kirkman has received research support from Novo Nordisk and Bayer. Dr. de Vries disclosed ties with Adocia, Novo Nordisk, Zealand, Eli Lilly, and Afon Technology. Dr. Snoek reported ties with Roche Diabetes, Novo Nordisk, Sanofi, and Eli Lilly.

A version of this article first appeared on

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