Racial and ethnic differences among children with new-onset autoimmune Type 1 diabetes

Diabet Med. 2017 Oct;34(10):1435-1439. doi: 10.1111/dme.13408. Epub 2017 Jul 12.


Aim: To compare demographic and clinical characteristics among children from ethnic minorities and non-Hispanic white children with new-onset autoimmune Type 1 diabetes.

Methods: We analysed a single-centre series of 712 children with new-onset autoimmune Type 1 diabetes between January 2008 and March 2011. The median (range) age was 9.7 (0.3-18.1) years, the mean (sd) BMI percentile was 69.7 (25.4) and 48.3% of the cohort were girls. The cohort comprised 57.3% non-Hispanic white, 20.5% Hispanic and 14.8% African-American children, and 7.4% were of other, mixed or unknown race.

Results: The Hispanic subgroup, compared with non-Hispanic white subgroup, had a higher mean (sd) C-peptide level [0.82 (1.62) vs 0.55 (0.47) ng/ml; P=0.004), and a greater proportion of children with elevated BMI (overweight or obesity; 49.6% vs 32.5%; P<0.001) and diabetic ketoacidosis (51.8% vs 38.2%; P=0.006). The African-American group had a higher mean (sd) glucose level [24.4 (12.8) vs 21.4 (10.7) mmol/l; P=0.017], a greater proportion of children with ketoacidosis (56.7% vs 38.2%; P=0.001), a greater proportion with elevated BMI (52.9% vs 32.5%; P<0.001), and a lower proportion of children at pre-pubertal stage (49.0% vs 61.6%; P=0.01), and tended to have higher C-peptide levels [0.65 (0.59) vs 0.55 [0.47] ng/ml; P=0.079) compared with the non-Hispanic white children. The differences in C-peptide levels compared with non-Hispanic white children persisted for Hispanic (P=0.01) but not African-American children (P=0.29) after adjustment for age, sex, BMI, ketoacidosis, glucose, Tanner stage and autoantibody number.

Conclusion: At the onset of paediatric autoimmune Type 1 diabetes, Hispanic, but not African-American children had higher C-peptide levels, after adjustment for potential confounders, compared with non-Hispanic white children. These findings suggest that ethnicity may contribute to the heterogeneity of Type 1 diabetes pathogenesis, with possible implications for intervention.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / ethnology*
  • Ethnicity / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Overweight / complications
  • Overweight / ethnology
  • Pediatric Obesity / complications
  • Pediatric Obesity / ethnology
  • Racial Groups / statistics & numerical data*