Risk of Infection in Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes Compared With the General Population: A Matched Cohort Study

Diabetes Care. 2018 Mar;41(3):513-521. doi: 10.2337/dc17-2131. Epub 2018 Jan 12.


Objective: We describe in detail the burden of infections in adults with diabetes within a large national population cohort. We also compare infection rates between patients with type 1 and type 2 diabetes mellitus (T1DM and T2DM).

Research design and methods: A retrospective cohort study compared 102,493 English primary care patients aged 40-89 years with a diabetes diagnosis by 2008 (n = 5,863 T1DM and n = 96,630 T2DM) with 203,518 age-sex-practice-matched control subjects without diabetes. Infection rates during 2008-2015, compiled from primary care and linked hospital and mortality records, were compared across 19 individual infection categories. These were further summarized as any requiring a prescription or hospitalization or as cause of death. Poisson regression was used to estimate incidence rate ratios (IRRs) between 1) people with diabetes and control subjects and 2) T1DM and T2DM adjusted for age, sex, smoking, BMI, and deprivation.

Results: Compared with control subjects without diabetes, patients with diabetes had higher rates for all infections, with the highest IRRs seen for bone and joint infections, sepsis, and cellulitis. IRRs for infection-related hospitalizations were 3.71 (95% CI 3.27-4.21) for T1DM and 1.88 (95% CI 1.83-1.92) for T2DM. A direct comparison of types confirmed higher adjusted risks for T1DM versus T2DM (death from infection IRR 2.19 [95% CI 1.75-2.74]). We estimate that 6% of infection-related hospitalizations and 12% of infection-related deaths were attributable to diabetes.

Conclusions: People with diabetes, particularly T1DM, are at increased risk of serious infection, representing an important population burden. Strategies that reduce the risk of developing severe infections and poor treatment outcomes are under-researched and should be explored.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / complications
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / epidemiology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / complications
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Infections / epidemiology*
  • Infections / etiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult