Background. Despite the availability of international guidelines for the treatment of type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) in children, important
aspects of treatment are not accessible to all young patients in South Africa (SA).
Objective. To investigate factors in diabetes management strategies that are associated with poor glycaemic control and decreased quality
of life (QoL) in SA children with T1DM.
Methods. Eighty children (mean (standard deviation) age 12.9 (2.7) years) with T1DM were asked to answer standardised questionnaires
on demographics, management techniques used and perceptions of diabetes. The height and weight of each child was recorded and
glycosylated haemoglobin (HbA1c) measured. Informed consent and assent for each participant was obtained before enrolment.
Results. A total of 51.4% of the participants had poor metabolic control, with an HbA1c level >10.0% (86 mmol/mol). Factors in clinical
practice found to have a significant association with decreased HbA1c and/or QoL were healthcare system (p<0.001), insulin administration
(p=0.001), correction dose (p=0.002), carbohydrate counting (p<0.001) and number of severe hyperglycaemic events (p=0.048). Regular
exercise did not show any association with HbA1c classification or QoL. Children from single-parent households were prone to unsuccessful
diabetes management regardless of treatment techniques used (p=0.002).
Conclusions. The use of premixed insulin without access to rapid-acting insulin, absence of correction doses for hyperglycaemia and lack
of carbohydrate counting showed significant association with poor diabetes management. Some recommendations regarding the adoption
of more effective diabetes management strategies in the public healthcare system are suggested.