Racial differences in neighborhood disadvantage, inflammation and metabolic control in black and white pediatric type 1 diabetes patients

Pediatr Diabetes. 2017 Mar;18(2):120-127. doi: 10.1111/pedi.12361. Epub 2016 Jan 18.


Background: Racial variation in the relationship between blood glucose and hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) complicates diabetes diagnosis and management in racially mixed populations. Understanding why HbA1c is persistently higher in blacks than whites could help reduce racial disparity in diabetes outcomes.

Objective: Test the hypothesis that neighborhood disadvantage is associated with inflammation and poor metabolic control in a racially mixed population of pediatric type 1 diabetes patients.

Methods: Patients (n = 86, 53 white, 33 black) were recruited from diabetes clinics. Self-monitored mean blood glucose (MBG) was downloaded from patient glucose meters. Blood was collected for analysis of HbA1c and C-reactive protein (CRP). Patient addresses and census data were used to calculate a concentrated disadvantage index (CDI). High CDI reflects characteristics of disadvantaged neighborhoods.

Results: HbA1c and MBG were higher (p < 0.0001) in blacks [10.4% (90.3 mmol/mol), 255 mg/dL] than whites [8.9% (73.9 mmol/mol), 198 mg/dL). CDI was higher in blacks (p < 0.0001) and positively correlated with HbA1c (r = 0.40, p = 0.0002) and MBG (r = 0.35, p = 0.0011) unless controlled for race. CDI was positively associated with CRP by linear regression within racial groups. CRP was not different between racial groups, and was not correlated with MBG, but was positively correlated with HbA1c when controlled for race (p = 0.04).

Conclusions: Neighborhood disadvantage was associated with inflammation and poor metabolic control in pediatric type 1 diabetes patients. Marked racial differences in potential confounding factors precluded differentiation between genetic and environmental effects. Future studies should recruit patients matched for neighborhood characteristics and treatment regimen to more comprehensively assess racial variation in HbA1c.

Keywords: hemoglobin A1c; inflammation; racial bias; socioeconomic factors; type 1 diabetes mellitus.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Blacks* / statistics & numerical data
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / complications
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / ethnology*
  • Female
  • Glycated Hemoglobin A / metabolism
  • Health Status Disparities
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / complications
  • Inflammation / ethnology*
  • Male
  • New Orleans / epidemiology
  • Racial Groups / statistics & numerical data
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Self Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Vulnerable Populations* / ethnology
  • Vulnerable Populations* / statistics & numerical data
  • Whites* / statistics & numerical data
  • Young Adult


  • Blood Glucose
  • Glycated Hemoglobin A