Life Expectancy Increases for People with Type 1

Expected lifetimes for people with type 1 diabetes are still less than the average population but better therapies have helped a lot

A new study on life expectancy and Type 1 diabetes has brought results that can be seen as glass half-empty or glass half-full. The bad news is that life expectancy for people with Type 1 is still shorter than that of the average population; the good news is that people with Type 1 are living longer than ever before.

For the study, Australian researchers used government data to measure the life expectancy of people with Type 1 from 1997 to 2010, according to a report in Diabetes in Control. By the end of the study period, men with Type 1 had gained an average of 1.9 years in life expectancy, while women with Type 1 had gained 1.5 years in the same time period. People with Type 1 still had a life expectancy that was 12 years shorter, on average, than that of the average population, however.

Researchers attribute the gains in lifespan to rapid medical advances, emerging research, and deepening understanding of Type 1 diabetes. When it comes to children with Type 1, more children are being diagnosed earlier, and intensive insulin therapy is beginning at a younger age to get blood sugar levels under control. Also, insulin pump and blood sugar monitoring technology has improved greatly in the 21st century, creating the possibility for better long-term blood sugar control.

With the promise of the development of new therapeutic techniques and smarter pumps, there’s hope that the gap in life expectancy between those with and without Type 1 can continue to close.

Emma Dunn is a Writing, Literature, and Publishing student at Emerson College in Boston. Besides writing for Type2Nation and Insulin Nation, she also writes for the online publication, The Odyssey.

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