From Salt Lake City, Utah, USA:
My 4-year-old grandson has diabetes and his parents are terrified that he could die despite their best efforts. I would like to know a statistic. What percentage of children with diabetes die (even though they are being treated) because their blood sugar cannot be maintained at normal levels?
There was a recent British study of mortality in young diabetics (Laing S.P. Diabetic Medicine, Vol 16, p447,1999) which showed that the figures were significantly greater than for the rest of the population, mostly as a result of the complications of ketoacidosis or long term poor control. There has however been a big change in the last few years as a result of the current emphasis on meticulous control of blood sugar levels. Exact figures will not be available for some years; but it is likely that when they are the new mortality figures will now only be slightly higher than for the population as a whole.
It seems probable that your grandson's parents are being overanxious and that they could be helped by discussing their fears with the Medical Social Worker in the diabetes care team. If these could be allayed, they will work more comfortably on the issue of control.
Original posting 24 Feb 2000
Posted to Complications
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