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From Bristol, Indiana, USA:

My 10 year old son was diagnosed with typeá1 diabetes three years ago. What is the life expectancy for children with diabetes? I can not find any information on that. Does everything depend on diet and glucose control? Is my son most likely going to be blind as an adult?


I am unable to find any data that suggests a change in life expectancy (mortality) as long as glucose and hemoglobin A1c levels remain acceptable. Certainly, there is an increased risk of morbidity with poor control. Management depends upon attention to diet, exercise, insulin administration, and glucose readings. A long-term study, called the DCCT. showed us what we thought was true: "good" glucose control can lead to up to a 70% decrease in risk of diabetes related kidney, eye, and nerve problems. Those who already had those types of diabetes complications and improved control slowed down the progression of these issues. I should point out that the degree of glucose control to achieve that was not "excellent" control or normal glucose values, but simply "good" control to keep the HbA1c less than about 1% above the upper level of normal for the lab performing the test.

Please do not resign yourselves to blindness and other complications. I imagine that your son's diabetes team has told you that they expect your son to do all the things his peers do.


[Editor's comment: See Panzram G Epidemiologic data on excess mortality and life expectancy in insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus--critical review, Exp Clin Endocrinol 1984 Mar;83(1):93-100. NOTE: The data in this study are more than 20 years old and do not reflect what we have learned from the DCCT. SS]

Original posting 28 Jan 2002
Posted to Complications


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