Objective: To determine if long-term mortality rates in early-onset insulin-treated diabetes differ by race among adults of similar socioeconomic status.
Research design and methods: A total of 391 (299 African Americans, 92 whites) mostly low-income adults 40-79 years of age with insulin-treated diabetes diagnosed before 30 years of age were recruited from community health centers in the southeast U.S. Cox models were used to estimate hazard ratios (HRs) of all-cause mortality among African Americans compared with whites. Additionally, standardized mortality ratios (SMRs) were used to compare the mortality experience of the individuals with diabetes with both national and general community health center sex- and race-specific population norms.
Results: Mean age at diabetes diagnosis and cohort entry, respectively, was 21 and 50 years in African Americans and 19 and 51 years in whites. During an average of 6.7 years of follow-up, 29% of African Americans and 35% of whites died. In multivariable analysis, no significant mortality difference was observed among African Americans compared with whites (HR 0.83 [95% CI 0.53-1.30]; P=0.51). Compared with the race-specific U.S. general population, SMRs for those with diabetes were 5.7 in African Americans and 11.7 in whites. However, when compared with the same source population (i.e., the community health center population), SMRs were 3.5 and 3.7 in African Americans and whites, respectively.
Conclusions: Elevated mortality persists in men and women with long duration of early-onset insulin-treated diabetes, but given survival to 40 years of age and similarly low economic status and access to health care, our data do not suggest a racial disparity in mortality.