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Researcher profiles:
* Associate Professor Ben Wheeler (Co-PI)
*Associate Professor Esko Wiltshire (Co-PI)
*Professor Dawn Elder
*Professor Barbara Galland
*Associate Professor Peter Larsen
*Dr Angela Campbell

Heart abnormalities in young people with diabetes

Over time diabetes can lead to problems with the nervous system, this includes the nerves that help to control heart rhythm and blood pressure. Damage to these nerves can make certain events such as heart attacks more likely to occur.

Children  and adolescents with diabetes can experience complications soon after the onset of their disease. On rare occasions, young people with diabetes die suddenly and unexpectedly during sleep. Heart nerve problems may be the cause of this devastating outcome.

Currently, the methods used to diagnose heart nerve problems only work when complications are advanced. We also do not know how sleep and low blood sugar influences the risk of heart abnormalities.

Looking for early warning signs

The SKIDDoo Study aimed to find ways to detect early signs of complications that affect the heart's nerves. The study also aimed to determine whether sleep itself, or changes in blood sugar during sleep, makes serious heart rhythm abnormalities more likely to occur in youth with diabetes.

The results of the SKIDDoo Study could lead to ways to reduce risk from heart rhythm abnormalities and prevent sudden death in young people with diabetes.


Macaulay GC, Boucher SE, Yogarajah A, Galland BC, Wheeler BJ. Sleep and Night-time Caregiving in Parents of Children and Adolescents with Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus - A Qualitative Study. Behav Sleep Med. 2020 Sep-Oct;18(5):622-636. doi: 10.1080/15402002.2019.1647207.

Heart model tn


SKIDDoo is funded by an Otago Medical School Collaborative Research Grant.

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