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Having Children Cuts Death Risk in People with Type 1 Diabetes, Study

Update Date: Sep 25, 2013 12:51 PM EDT

Having children may help lower mortality risk in people with type 1 diabetes, according to a new study. Researchers said these findings are especially true for women.

Previous studies revealed that mortality in the general population is higher among women and men who do not have any offspring. Researchers in that study also found that both men and women with childhood onset type 1 diabetes have fewer offspring than the general population.

In the latest study, researchers looked at mortality and causes of death among people with childhood-onset type 1 diabetes, and focused on mortality differences between childless people and those with children.

The study involved 5,162 people with diabetes and control subjects.

The study revealed that 1,025 people with diabetes and 497 people without diabetes had died during the follow-up until the end of 2010.

The findings revealed that all-cause mortality in people with diabetes was significantly higher than control subjects. Researchers found that all-cause mortality in men with diabetes was three times higher and five times higher for women compared to the control group.

While mortality is generally much higher in men than in women, the mortality differences between men and women with diabetes is less pronounced.

The findings also revealed that the more children a person had, the lower their mortality risk. Researchers found that people with children had a 50 percent lower risk of all-cause mortality.

"Among females, having children lowered mortality in a similar way in diabetic persons and controls. In males, this difference was less pronounced," study author Dr. Lena Sjöberg, of the University of Helsinki, said in a news release.

"The beneficial effect of having offspring on mortality was observed. It was, however, significantly smaller among men with diabetes than among men in the control group. In women, having offspring was associated with lower mortality in a similar way regardless of the diabetes status. One possible reason for this gender difference is that women with type 1 diabetes are trained and well motivated to achieve better metabolic control during pregnancy and that this motivation may persist also post partum," she explained.

She said that another possibility could be that people with serious health problems choose not to have children.

 The findings are published in the journal Diabetologia

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