Deaths among youths with diabetes dropped from a rate of 2.69 per million in 1968-69 to 1.05 per million in 2008-09, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The largest decline in death rates, 78%, was in children younger than 10, compared with a 52% decline among youths ages 10 to 19, the CDC reported using data from the National Vital Statistics System. “These findings demonstrate improvements in diabetes mortality among youths but also indicate a need for continued improvement in diabetes diagnosis and care,” the researchers wrote.
For youths younger than 10, the researchers found a steady decrease in diabetes death rates between 1968 and 1995, with an annual decrease of 5.7%. The annual decrease flattened out to 0.3% between 1995 and 2009.
For youths ages 10 to 19, the annual decrease in diabetes death rates was 6.5% between 1968 and 1984. However, annual rates increased by an average of 1.6% from 1984 to 2009.
The researchers noted that a decrease in the death rate from diabetes may contribute to an overall increase in the prevalence of diabetes among youths, based on limited state data. In 2010, an estimated 215,000 Americans ages 19 and younger had diagnosed diabetes.
Possible reasons for the overall decrease “include improved diabetes care and treatment,” such as improved technology for blood glucose monitoring and insulin administration, and “increased awareness of diabetes symptoms, possibly resulting in earlier recognition and treatment,” the researchers wrote. “Other possible reasons include advances in education regarding diabetes and management of diabetic ketoacidosis.”
Reasons for the increase in diabetes-related deaths since 1984-86 among youths ages 10 to 19 “are unknown,” the researchers wrote. “One possibility is that youths who had diabetes diagnosed before age 10 and who previously might have died before reaching age 10 are living longer and dying at ages 10-19. Similar findings have been observed in other studies.”
The authors noted that the early data they used did not distinguish between diabetes types. However, type 2 diabetes rarely is diagnosed in youths.
“Although the findings in this report demonstrate improvement in diabetes mortality among youths, particularly among those [younger than 10], deaths resulting from diabetes in youths potentially are preventable, and these findings indicate a need for improved diabetes diagnosis and care, especially among youths [ages 10 to 19], whose risk for diabetes-related morality appears to have increased in recent years,” the authors wrote.
The study appeared in the Nov. 2 issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report and is available at www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6143a2.htm?s_cid=mm6143a2_w.