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Effect of Socioeconomic Status and Ethnicity on Glycemic Control in Arab and Jewish Youth with Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus

Nehama Zuckerman-Levin, Haleema Dabaja-Younis, Elemy Ameer, Michal Cohen, Yasmin Maor, and Naim Shehadeh


Objectives: Research and theory suggests that socioeconomic status may affect diabetes control. We investigated the effect of socioeconomic status and ethnicity on glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) in Arab and Jewish children with type 1 diabetes mellitus in northern Israel. Methods: Data were collected from medical records of 80 Arab and 119 Jewish children attending a pediatric diabetes clinic in a tertiary health care center. Multivariate regression analysis was used to assess factors independently affecting HbA1c level. Results: Mean age was 12.9±4.7 years. Arab families had more children compared to Jewish families (3.7±1.5 versus 2.9±1.2, respectively, P=0.0007). Academic education was significantly less common in Arab families (25% versus 66.2%, respectively, P=0.0001). Income of Jewish parents was significantly higher compared to that of Arab parents (7,868±2,018 versus 5,129±906 NIS/month, respectively, P=0.0001). Mean age at diagnosis of diabetes was 9.6±4.6 years and disease duration was 3.4±2.3 years in both groups. Half of Arab and Jewish children were treated with multiple insulin injections and half with insulin pumps. Mean number of self-glucose testing/day was higher in Jewish children than in Arab children (4.7±2.5 versus 4.0±1.5, respectively, P=0.033). Mean HbA1c was above recommendations, 9.5% (12.6 mmol/L) in Arab children and 8.7% (11.3 mmol/L) in Jewish children (P=0.004). In multivariate analysis, disease duration (P=0.010) and ethnicity (P=0.034 for Arabs versus Jews) were independently associated with HbA1c. Conclusions: Both Arab and Jewish children failed to meet HbA1c goals, but this effect was significantly greater for Arabs. Ethnicity remained a predictor of failure even following adjustment for potential confounders.