A Dramatic Life Expectancy Increase for Type 1s

A 30-year study of life expectancy among people with type 1 diabetes showed a dramatic increase during the second half of the study, say researchers at the University of Pittsburgh. Type 1s diagnosed between 1965 and 1980 have a life expectancy of 68.8 years—15 years more than type 1s diagnosed between 1950 and 1964. In the same period, general life expectancy for US residents increased by less than one year.

The increase in life expectancy occurred regardless of patients’ sex or age  at the time of diagnosis. It was associated with a significant decline in mortality: Patients diagnosed from 1965 through 1980 had a 30-year mortality rate of 11.6 percent, versus 35.6 percent for patients diagnosed from 1950 through 1964.

The researchers derived their results from the Pittsburgh Epidemiology of Diabetes Complications study, a long-term project that in 1986 began to examine type 1 diabetes patients who had been diagnosed in childhood.

The study’s senior author, Trevor Orchard, MD, professor of epidemiology, pediatrics, and medicine at the University of Pittsburgh, said that while scientists have known that mortality rates for type 1s have been declining over time, nobody was quite sure what actual life expectancies for type 1s might be. He said that the impressive improvement documented by the study is “a tribute to how modern day treatment has dramatically changed the outlook for those with childhood onset type 1 diabetes.”

An abstract of the study is available at the American Diabetes Association website. 

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