The life expectancy of people diagnosed with type 1 diabetes dramatically increased during the course of a 30-year, long-term prospective study, according to researchers at the University of Pittsburgh whose findings currently appear online in the journal Diabetes.
The life expectancy for participants diagnosed with type 1 diabetes between 1965 and 1980 was 68.8 years – a 15-year improvement, compared to those diagnosed between 1950 and 1964, according to the study. Meanwhile, the life expectancy of the general U.S. population increased less than one year during the same time period.
“The estimated 15-year life expectancy improvement between the two groups persisted regardless of gender or age at diagnosis,” said Rachel Miller M.S., statistician at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health and lead author of the study.
The results are based on participants in the Pittsburgh Epidemiology of Diabetes Complications (EDC) study, a long-term prospective study of childhood onset type 1 diabetes, which began in 1986. Participants, who were an average age of 28 when entering the study and 44 at its completion, were diagnosed with type 1 diabetes between 1950 and 1980.
“Type 1 diabetes mortality rates are known to have decreased over time, but recent life expectancy estimates for those diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in the United States are lacking,” said Trevor Orchard MD, senior author and professor of epidemiology, pediatrics and medicine at the University of Pittsburgh. “Therefore, we estimated life expectancy of the EDC study cohort and were impressed to see such an improvement – a tribute to how modern day treatment has dramatically changed the outlook for those with childhood onset type 1 diabetes.”
The 30-year mortality of participants diagnosed with type 1 diabetes from 1965 to 1980 was 11.6 percent – a significant decline from the 35.6 percent 30-year mortality of those diagnosed between 1950 and 1964, according to the study.
Previously known as juvenile diabetes, type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults. In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas produces little or no insulin to properly control blood sugar levels. It is typically treated with insulin replacement therapy.
In addition to Dr. Orchard, other authors include Aaron M. Secrest, Ph.D.; Ravi K. Sharma, Ph.D.; and Thomas J. Songer, Ph.D., all of the University of Pittsburgh. The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health.