Diabetes death rates higher in black youths

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NEW YORK, Nov 17 (Reuters) During the past two and a half decades, consistent racial disparities have existed in diabetes mortality among young Americans, with death rates for black youths significantly higher those for white youths.

''Further study is needed to discern the specific reasons for increased diabetes mortality in black youths,'' write health officials in the November 16th issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, a publication of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In the United States, diabetes affects 18 per 10,000 children and adolescents younger than age 20. CDC investigators analyzed deaths between 1979 and 2004 with an underlying cause of diabetes among US children and teens 1 to 19 years old.

''Although diabetes deaths among youths were rare during 1979-2004, numbering less than an average of 80 per year for the entire period, diabetes death rates for black youths were consistently higher than those for white youths,'' they report.

''Additionally, whereas diabetes mortality did not change substantially for white youths during 1994-2004, death rates for black youths increased significantly,'' the investigators further report.

From 2003 to 2004, the annual average diabetes death rate per million youths was 2.46 for black youths compared with 0.91 for white youths.

Unlike adults with diabetes, most diabetes deaths among children and teenagers are due to acute complications of the disease such as ketoacidosis and hypoglycemia, ''and thus are preventable,'' the CDC notes.

''Better identification and management of the disease among youths, especially black youths, might help decrease racial disparities and prevent deaths from diabetes.'' REUTERS SYU HT0924

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