Sympathetic function was studied in 101 diabetic children and 102 age and sex matched control children, as part of a longitudinal study of the evolution of microvascular disease in the population of diabetic children and adolescents in Avon County. The median (range) age of the diabetic population was 13.5 (6.0-17.2) years, the duration of diabetes was 4.0 (0.4-13.9) years, and glycated haemoglobin (HbA1) was 10.9 (7.0-18.1)%. Pupillary adaptation in darkness, as an index of sympathetic neuropathy, was measured using a Polaroid portable pupillometer. Diabetic children had a significantly smaller median pupillary diameter, measured as the pupil/iris ratio and expressed as a percentage, than control children (median (range) 62.9 (50.3-72.1) v 65.9 (52.2-73.8)). Pupillary diameter was significantly related to diabetes duration (r = -0.22), HbA1 (r = -0.34), systolic blood pressure (r = -0.25), diastolic blood pressure (r = -0.49), and mean albumin/creatinine ratio on random urine samples (r = -0.26). Pupillary diameter was not related to age (r = -0.1). Eight (7.9%) diabetic and four (3.9%) control children were identified as having abnormal pupillary dilation in darkness. In comparison with the rest of the diabetic population, these diabetic children had longer diabetes duration and poorer glycaemic control. Polaroid pupillometry has demonstrated subclinical autonomic neuropathy in a population of diabetic children and adolescents. These abnormalities were related to poor metabolic control, long diabetes duration, and also to other indices of microvascular disease.
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