A “dead-in-bed” syndrome related to diabetes, which was first reported in the United Kingdom in 1989, is the subject of a cohort study appearing in the February 1995 issue of Diabetic Medicine.
H. Thordarson of the Haukeland Hospital in Norway led the study, which looked at the cause of death of 240 people with diabetes who were between the ages of seven and 40 at time of death. The researchers designed the study to include every person under 40 with diabetes who died of any cause in Norway between the years of 1981-1990.
Of these cases 16 people (five percent of the study) died of what is classified as “dead in bed syndrome.” This means that the person was found dead in bed, with no apparent cause, was seen in good health the day before, and did not show signs of ketoacidosis or hypoglycemic shock.
The last three years of the study, 1988, 1989 and 1990, had the highest incidence of cases with almost four per year.
The researchers pointed out three changes in insulin therapy which occurred at the same time as the rise in cases. These were: the introduction of human insulin in 1986/87, the introduction of 100 U insulin in 1987, and a rise in the use of multiple daily doses of insulin in that time period. The relationship, if any, between the syndrome and insulin is unknown.