Public Release:  Death rates from type 1 diabetes steadily improving

University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences

ORLANDO, Fla., June 28 - Advances in treatment and care have reduced overall death rates from type 1 diabetes, with women and African-Americans having higher risks of mortality, according to a University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health study being presented at the 70th Scientific Sessions of the American Diabetes Association.

The results, abstract number 0326-OR, are based on the Allegheny County Type 1 Diabetes Registry, one of the largest population-based registries of the disease, which includes nearly 1,100 people diagnosed between 1965 and 1979 in Allegheny County, Pa.

As of January 2008, 26 percent of registry participants had died - a rate seven times higher than age-and sex-matched people in the general population. Participants who were diagnosed most recently (1975 to 1979) were only 5.5 times more likely to have died.

The researchers also found that women with type 1 diabetes were 13 times more likely to have died than women in the general population, compared to men whose death rate was five times higher than their healthy counterparts. When the researchers explored differences in survival by race, they found that after 30 years of diabetes only 52 percent of African-Americans were alive compared to 82 percent of Caucasians.

"The more recent a person was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, the less likely they were to die, suggesting the positive impact of advances made during the last few decades," said Aaron M. Secrest, lead author of the study and a doctoral student at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health. "Even so, significant disparities in mortality remain and reveal a need for continuing improvements in diabetes treatment and care."

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The study's co-author is Trevor Orchard, M.D., of the University of Pittsburgh. The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health.

The University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health (GSPH), founded in 1948 and now one of the top-ranked schools of public health in the United States, conducts research on public health and medical care that improves the lives of millions of people around the world. GSPH is a leader in devising new methods to prevent and treat cardiovascular diseases, HIV/AIDS, cancer and other important public health issues. For more information about GSPH, visit the school's Web site at http://www.publichealth.pitt.edu.

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