Life Expectancy Increased 15 Years for Those More Recently Diagnosed with T1D

This study reports results from the Pittsburgh Epidemiology of Diabetes Complications study that has tracked 933 individuals diagnosed with T1D at Childrens Hospital of Pittsburgh for around 30 years. In this study they compare people diagnosed with T1D from 1950-1964 with those diagnosed between 1965 and 1980 and show that those diagnosed more recently have 15 years greater life expectancy than those in the earlier group. The average life expectancy from birth in those diagnosed in the 1960s and 1970s is only 4-6 years less than the general population, compared to more than 17 years less for those diagnosed earlier. Several explanations are proposed for this difference. Firstly, no early childhood deaths were reported in the latter group, likely reflecting better diagnosis and early treatment of T1D. Another potential explanation is a decline in both short and long-term complications with better insulin therapy and glucose monitoring. In particular, some reduction in diabetic nephropathy, or kidney disease, may be important as previous studies have shown that in the absence of diabetic nephropathy, the long-term mortality risk for T1D is the same as the general population.


Improvements in the life expectancy of type 1 diabetes: The Pittsburgh Epidemiology of Diabetes Complications Study cohort. Miller RG, Secrest AM, Sharma RK, Songer TJ, Orchard T. Diabetes. 2012 Nov;61(11):2987-92. doi: 10.2337/db11-1625. Epub 2012 Jul 30.

Investigators and Institutions:

Dr. Trevor Orchard and colleagues, University of Pittsburgh.

Ramifications for Individuals with Type 1 Diabetes:

The significant increase in life expectancy for those more recently diagnosed with T1D reflects the results of past research and development expenditures translated into better medical treatment and self-management of T1D in recent years. However, the importance of excellent glucose control and self-care are not changed by this finding and several studies have noted that many with T1D are not achieving the recommended goals for glucose control.

JDRF Involvement:

JDRF did not fund this study but remains committed to improving outcomes for those with T1D including finding ways to improve glucose control and reduce complications of diabetes. Several ongoing studies are focused on reducing complications, including diabetic kidney disease, by searching for and validating new therapeutic targets as well as developing and testing new therapies.