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MMWR CDC Surveill Summ. 1993 Jun 4;42(2):1-20.

Surveillance for diabetes mellitus--United States, 1980-1989.



In the United States, diabetes mellitus is the most important cause of lower-extremity amputation and end-stage renal disease; the major cause of blindness among working-age adults; a major cause of disability, premature mortality, congenital malformations, perinatal mortality, and health-care costs; and an important risk factor for the development of many other acute and chronic conditions (e.g., diabetic ketoacidosis, ischemic heart disease, stroke). Surveillance data describing diabetes and its complications are critical to increasing recognition of the public health burden of diabetes, formulating health-care policy, identifying high-risk groups, developing strategies to reduce the burden of this disease, and evaluating progress in disease prevention and control.


In this report, data are summarized from CDC's diabetes surveillance system; trends in diabetes and its complications are evaluated by age, sex, and race for the years 1980-1989.


CDC has established an ongoing and evolving surveillance system to analyze and compile periodic, representative data on the disease burden of diabetes and its complications in the United States. Data sources currently include vital statistics, the National Health Interview Survey, the National Hospital Discharge Survey, and Medicare claims data for end-stage renal disease.


In 1989, approximately 6.7 million persons in the United States reported that they had diabetes mellitus, and a similar number probably had this disabling chronic disease without being aware of it. The disease burden of diabetes and its complications is large and is likely to increase as the population grows older. Effective primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention strategies are needed, and these efforts need to be intensified among groups at highest risk, including blacks. Important gaps exist in periodic and representative data for describing the disease burden.


CDC is assisting diabetes control programs in 26 states and one territory. These programs attempt to reduce the burden of diabetes by preventing blindness, lower-extremity amputations, cardiovascular disease, and adverse outcomes of pregnancy among persons with diabetes. Because of important limitations in measuring the burden of diabetes, CDC is exploring sources of surveillance data for blindness, adverse outcomes of pregnancy, and the public health burden of diabetes among minority groups.

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