To examine short and long term time trends in mortality among patients with early onset (age 0-14 years) and late onset (15-29 years) type 1 diabetes and causes of deaths over time.
Population based nationwide cohort study.
All Finnish patients diagnosed as having type 1 diabetes below age 30 years between 1970 and 1999 (n = 17,306).
Crude mortality, standardised mortality ratios, time trends, and cumulative mortality.
A total of 1338 deaths occurred during 370,733 person years of follow-up, giving an all cause mortality rate of 361/100,000 person years. The standardised mortality ratio was 3.6 in the early onset cohort and 2.8 in the late onset cohort. Women had higher standardised mortality ratios than did men in both cohorts (5.5 v 3.0 in the early onset cohort; 3.6 v 2.6 in the late onset cohort). The standardised mortality ratio at 20 years' duration of diabetes in the early onset cohort decreased from 3.5 in the patients diagnosed in 1970-4 to 1.9 in those diagnosed in 1985-9. In contrast, the standardised mortality ratio in the late onset cohort increased from 1.4 in those diagnosed in 1970-4 to 2.9 in those diagnosed in 1985-9. Mortality due to chronic complications of diabetes decreased with time in the early onset cohort but not in the late onset cohort. Mortality due to alcohol related and drug related causes increased in the late onset cohort and accounted for 39% of the deaths during the first 20 years of diabetes. Accordingly, mortality due to acute diabetic complications increased significantly in the late onset cohort.
Survival of people with early onset type 1 diabetes has improved over time, whereas survival of people with late onset type 1 diabetes has deteriorated since the 1980s. Alcohol has become an important cause of death in patients with type 1 diabetes, and the proportion of deaths caused by acute complications of diabetes has increased in patients with late onset type 1 diabetes.