-- Robert Preidt
WEDNESDAY, Sept. 25 (HealthDay News) -- Type 1 diabetes patients
with children have a lower risk of death than those without
children, but the benefits of parenthood are stronger in women than
in men, a new study finds.
Previous research has shown that diabetes-related complications
put people with type 1 diabetes at greater risk for death than
people in the general population.
For this study, researchers analyzed data from nearly 5,200
people in Finland who were diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 17
or younger between 1965 and 1979, and were placed on insulin at
diagnosis. They were compared with a control group of twice as many
people without diabetes.
By the end of 2010, the researchers found 1,025 people with
diabetes and about 500 people in the control group had died. Death
from all causes was nearly five times higher among women with
diabetes than among women in the control group, and three times
higher among men with diabetes than among men in the control
Overall, death from all causes was half that among men and women
with and without diabetes who had children, compared to those who
did not have children. In general, the more children a person had,
the lower their risk of death.
But there were gender differences. Among women with and without
diabetes, having children was associated with a lower risk of
death. But the beneficial effect of having children was much
smaller among men with diabetes than among those in the control
group, according to the study, which is scheduled for presentation
Wednesday at the annual meeting of the European Association for the
Study of Diabetes in Barcelona, Spain.
One possible reason for this gender difference is that women
with type 1 diabetes are trained and highly motivated to achieve
better control of their diabetes during pregnancy, and this may
continue after they give birth, said study author Dr. Lena Sjoberg,
of the University of Helsinki and National Institute for Health and
Welfare, in Finland.
"One of the limitations of a register study is that you don't know who has chosen to remain childless or to have fewer children than desired, and whether those with diabetes have done so specifically because of their disease," Sjoberg said in an association news release. "Partly, the differences in mortality between childless persons and persons with children are probably due to the fact that those with serious health problems choose not to have children."
The study found only an association between having children and
risk of death -- it did not prove cause-and-effect. Data and
conclusions presented at meetings typically are considered
preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.
The Nemours Foundation has more about
type 1 diabetes.
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