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Trevor Orchard

High Mortality Rate among African Americans with Type 1 Diabetes due Largely to Acute Complications, Say University of Pittsburgh Researchers

SAN FRANCISCO, June 17, 2002 — While the rate of deaths related to type 1 diabetes is declining in the overall population, mortality among African Americans with the disease remains higher than in whites, and acute complications such as diabetic coma are to blame, according to a study being conducted in Pittsburgh, Pa.

Preliminary results of the study were presented today at the American Diabetes Association's 62nd Scientific Sessions in San Francisco by Zsolt Bosnyak, a research fellow at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health (GSPH).

In the study, investigators are examining cause of death for 200 type 1 diabetic patients among a cohort of 1,261 patients diagnosed with type 1 diabetes between 1965 and 1979. At 20 years follow-up, 15 percent of the African American patients had died, compared with 6 percent of the white patients, with mortality from acute complications seven times higher in African Americans.

"These results, while preliminary, suggest an inadequacy in care for African Americans with type 1 diabetes," said Trevor Orchard, M.D., professor of epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh GSPH and senior researcher on the study. "This could be a result of issues such as access to care, or the availability of monitoring supplies and appropriate education about diabetes. It is critical that further studies are undertaken to identify the reasons for this disparity."

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