Short-term mortality risk in young diabetic people is an indicator of quality of care. We assessed this in the Italian incident population-based registry of Turin. The study base included 1210 incident cases (n=677 aged 0-14 years and n=533 aged 15-29 years) with diabetes, onset period 1974-2000 in the Province of Turin, Italy. The relevant timescale for analysis was the time since the onset of diabetes to death, or till 31 December 2003. Standardized mortality ratio (SMR) for all-cause mortality was computed using the Italian population as a standard, by 5 years, age group, sex, and calendar period. Mean attained age of the incident cohort was 29.7 years (range 5.2-49.7 years). During a mean follow-up period of 15.8 years (range 2.0-29.9 years), there were 19 deaths in 15,967. Nine person-years of observation (n=9.5 expected deaths), giving an all-cause mortality rate of 1.19/1000 person-years (95% CI 0.76-1.87) and an SMR of 1.96 (1.25-3.08). In no cases did death occur at the onset of diabetes or in childhood. Out of 19 deaths, 9 were diabetes related (n=6 coma and n=3 end-stage renal disease). In Cox regression analysis, the hazard ratio (HR) was higher in adult-onset than in childhood-onset diabetes (HR=3.90, 95% CI 1.14-13.39), independently of calendar period and gender. (1) Children and young adults with type 1 diabetes experienced a two-fold higher short-term mortality risk than Italian people of similar age and sex and (2) the risk was higher in adult-onset than in childhood-onset diabetes. The quality of diabetes care should be improved to prevent early deaths.