Type 1 diabetes leading cause of diabetes deaths in those below 25, easily preventable: Study

Countries with low socio-demographic indices recorded more type I diabetes deaths

By Taran Deol
Published: Friday 11 February 2022
Diabetes trends in those below 25 — how can we prevent early deaths Photo: WHO

Type 1 diabetes in those below 25 years accounted for at least 73.7 per cent of the overall 16,300 diabetes deaths in this age group in 2019, according to a new study. This is despite fatalities from this condition being largely curable. 

The death rate varied based on the socio-demographic index (SDI) of a country, the research paper published in the journal Lancet in February 2022 showed. 

Countries on the higher end of the SDI spectrum recorded 0.13 deaths per 100,000 people (a toll of 415). For the low-middle SDI countries, Type 1 diabetes had a death rate of 0.6 per 100,000 people (5,300 deaths) and low SDI countries recorded a 0.71 per 100,000 population death rate (4,860 deaths). 

Between 1990 and 2019, global death rates for all types of diabetes after age-standardisation decreased by 17 per cent and that for Type 1 diabetes by 21 per cent, the researchers found. 

Countries in the low SDI quintile recorded the slowest decline in all categories (13.6 per cent), according to the study that analysed the Global Burden of Diseases Study 2019.

Myanmar (1.93 deaths per 100,000 population), Papua New Guinea (1.78 per 100,000 population) and Haiti (1.57 per 100, 000 population) had the highest age-standardised death rates for diabetes, the report stated.

It added: Cyprus (0.03 deaths per 100,000 population), Slovenia (0.03 per 100,000 population) and Switzerland (0.03 per 100,000 population) had the lowest death rates, confirming the link between a high SDI and mortality.

The researchers wrote: 

Decreasing diabetes mortality at ages younger than 25 years remains an important challenge, especially in low and low-middle SDI countries. Inadequate diagnosis and treatment of diabetes is likely to be a major contributor to these early deaths, highlighting the urgent need to provide better access to insulin and basic diabetes education and care.

The United Nations and the World Health Organization in the 2013-2020 global action plan had recognised diabetes as one of the key challenges in the non-communicable diseases group and aimed to confront it. 

Preventing and managing chronic complications in diabetes patients is not easy but the same is not true for avoiding fatal cases due to acute complications, the study noted. “Uninterrupted access to affordable insulin, healthcare and health education is all that is needed.

Diabetes mortality is high in sub-Saharan Africa, parts of central and southeast Asia, Oceania and Latin America and the Caribbean, and will likely increase, the researchers observed. 

“Inadequate diagnosis and treatment of diabetes” have been listed in the report as the reason for these “early deaths”, an issue that can be dealt with by providing proper access to healthcare and education.

Brazil’s success in reducing Type I diabetes deaths by 74.5 per cent in those below the age of 40 between 1991 and 2010 after it introduced the National Health System is exemplary, the report said. 

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