Type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) a chronic characterized by an absolute insulin deficiency requires conscientious patient self-management to maintain glucose control within a normal range. Family cohesion and adaptability, positive coping strategies, social support and adequate self-regulatory behavior are found to favorably influence glycemic control. Our hypothesis was that the responsible care of a companion animal is associated with these positive attributes and correlated with the successful management of a chronic illness such as type 1 diabetes. We recruited 223 youths between 9 and 19 years of age from the Pediatric Diabetes clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, reviewed the status of their glycemic control (using three consecutive A1c values) and asked them questions about the presence of a pet at home, and their level of involvement with its care. Multivariate analyses show that children who care actively for one or more pets at home are 2.5 times more likely to have control over their glycemic levels than children who do not care for a pet, adjusting for duration of disease, socio-economic status, age and self-management [1.1 to 5.8], pWald = 0.032. A separate model involving the care of a petdog only yielded comparable results (ORa = 2.6 [1.1 to 5.9], pWald = 0.023).
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