Study Finds Racial Disparities in Treating Type 1 Diabetes in Children

Research has documented racial and ethnic disparities in diabetes treatments and outcomes, but it's unclear whether those differences result from socioeconomic status or other factors.

A new study in Pediatrics, "Racial-Ethnic Disparities in Management and Outcomes Among Children With Type 1 Diabetes," in the March 2015 Pediatrics (published online Feb. 16), found racial disparities in insulin treatment methods and diabetes outcomes remained even after adjusting for socioeconomic status.

Researchers analyzed a cohort of 10,704 children with type 1 diabetes for at least a year, comparing the use of insulin pumps, hemoglobin A1c scores, and frequency of diabetic complications such as diabetes ketoacidosis or severe hypoglycemia. The odds of a white child being on insulin pump therapy were 3.6 times higher than a black child, and 1.9 times higher than a Hispanic child.  This disparity persisted across education levels; 68 percent of white children whose parents had a college degree or graduate degree used an insulin pump, compared with 34 percent of black children who had a college or graduate degree. Black children had higher mean hemoglobin A1c scores, indicating poorer control of blood sugar. More black children also experienced diabetic complications in the previous year, compared to white children and Hispanic children. There were no significant differences in hemoglobin A1c, diabetic ketoacidosis or severe hypoglycemia between white children and Hispanic children after adjusting for socioeconomic status.

Study authors conclude that even after adjusting for socioeconomic status, marked disparities exist in insulin treatment method and diabetes treatment outcomes between black versus Hispanic and white children.

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2/16/2015 12:30 AM